Violent, terrifying and fascinating, Caligula, Nero and Elagabalus led lives so short, ambivalent and cruel that they inspired numerous writers. “Anarchy, to the extent to which Elagabalus pushes it, is genuine poetry”, wrote Antonin Artaud, exalting a man’s battle against conventions and order.
Cavalli’s last-known opera, dating from 1667, focuses on the perverse young emperor who neglected affairs of state in favour of sensual pleasures.
Systematically overturning accepted morals, Elagabalus dresses men as women, and names women to the Senate, favours sinning servants and humiliates generals. Baroque and carnivalesque, Eliogabalo is not, however, an opera that advocates a return to order.
Leonardo García Alarcón, a finder of baroque gems, and Thomas Jolly are careful not to transform Eliogabalo into a sublime icon who would abase virtue.
On the contrary, the conductor and young director, who are presenting their first production for the Paris Opera, accept the character’s contradictions and ambiguities
Orchestre Cappella Mediterranea
Chœur de Chambre de Namur
Coproduction avec de Nationale Opera, Amsterdam
Coproduction Opéra national de Paris, CLC Productions with the participation of France TélévisionsWith the support of the Orange Foundation, patron of the Paris Opera's audiovisual broadcasts and with the assistance of the Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée.
Director: Julien Condemine & Roberto Maria Grassi
© Opéra national de Paris - CLC Productions – 2016
Picture: © Agathe Poupeney / OnP
- Eliogabalo: Emperor of Rome
- Alessandro: Eliogabalo’s cousin and heir
- Gemmira: Giuliano’s sister, engaged to Alessandro but coveted by Eliogabalo
- Giuliano: Prefect of the Praetorian Guard, in love with Eritea
- Eritea: A young woman dishonoured by Eliogabalo and in love with Giuliano
- Zotico: A confidant and favourite of Eliogabalo
- Lenia: Eliogabalo’s nurse
- Nerbulone: Coach driver, Lenia’s fiancé
- Atilia Macrina: A young woman in love with Alessandro
- Tiferne: A gladiator