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Emblems of EloquenceOpera and Women's Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice$
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Wendy Heller

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520209336

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520209336.001.0001

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Didone and the Voice of Chastity

Didone and the Voice of Chastity

(p.82) Chapter 3 Didone and the Voice of Chastity
Emblems of Eloquence

Wendy Heller

University of California Press

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

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