Didone and the Voice of Chastity

Wendy Heller

in Emblems of Eloquence

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780520209336
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520919341 | DOI:
Didone and the Voice of Chastity

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This chapter describes Dido, queen of Carthage, in Francesco Cavalli's La Didone. It also explains the tragic despair of Hecuba and Didone's guilt. It concentrates on the relationship between recitative and aria—that is, between “operatic speech” and song. It also considers the significance of Cavalli's somewhat idiosyncratic use of tonal language. La Didone provides an ideal vantage point from which to investigate the operatic encoding of women's voice and to view the emergence of a feminine musical rhetoric in the first decades of Venetian opera. Dido's story warns women about the debilitating nature of female desire and the necessity of retaining control when dealing with a client. The Trojan act highlights the difference between male and female virtues, and the importance of civic duty over private passion. Didone's political power and protestations about chastity must necessarily be overthrown.

Keywords: La Didone; Francesco Cavalli; Hecuba; Dido; Trojan act; Venetian opera; female desire; chastity

Chapter.  18367 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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