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Aci, Galatea and Polifemo
Teatro Carignano, Friday 12 June 2009 - Friday 19 June 2009
The shepherd Acis, son of Faunus and the nymph Symaethis, loves the Nereid Galatea, daughter of Nereus and Doride. It is dawn and they declare their love for each other, but their happiness is clouded by the concerns of Galatea: the Nereid tells her beloved that she fears the furious reactions of Polyphemus, the one-eyed Cyclops, son of Neptune and the nymph Thoosa, who is in love with her. A terrifying sound is heard, and Galatea tells Acis to flee: Polyphemus is arriving. The Cyclops expresses all his anger, telling Galatea that he intends to take revenge on his rival and ask the help of Harpies, Sphinxes and Chimeras, and the heavens will also show their anger with thunderbolts, lightning and thunder. Galatea doesn’t want to yield to his will, and the Cyclops threatens her. Acis intervenes, ready to defend his beloved, and explains to Polyphemus that he will never defeat Galatea’s constancy. Polyphemus says that his disdain will strike whoever does not love him. The Cyclops then attempts to embrace Galatea, who invokes her father Nereus to rescue her.
Galatea then goes to Acis, who is alone. Polyphemus, trembling as he listens to the loving words exchanged by the two of them, seizes a huge boulder and kills Acis. Galatea is desperate, but Polyphemus tells her that it is her fault alone if Acis is dead because she rejected him. The Nereid pleads with her father to transform the blood of her beloved into a river that flows towards the sea so that she can embrace him. Polyphemus, disconsolate, realises that Galatea’s prayers have been answered, and that Acis is now a river. The cantata concludes with the trio, sung by the three protagonists: “Chi ben ama ha per gli oggetti fido cor, pura costanza. Ché se mancano i diletti poi non manca la speranza” [He who loves well has for the object of his love a faithful heart, pure constancy. So then, if loved-ones perish, hope does not].