Apollo et Hyacinthus by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Summary

'''''Apollo et Hyacinthus''''' is an opera, K. 38, written in 1767 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was 11 years old at the time. It is Mozart's first true opera (when one considers that ''Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebotes'' is simply a sacred drama). It is in three acts. As is suggested by the name, the opera is based upon

Greek mythology as told by Roman poet Ovid in his masterwork ''Metamorphoses''. Interpreting this work, Rufinus Widl wrote the libretto in Latin.

The opera was first performed on 13 May 1767 at the Great Hall, Salzburg University. The myth follows that Hyacinth died accidentally from being struck on the head by a discus thrown by Apollo. However, another myth tells that it was the wind god Zephyrus who was actually responsible for Hyacinth's death because Zephyrus, out of jealousy, blew the discus off course in order to injure and kill Hyacinth. When he died, Apollo made the hyacinth flower spring out from his spilled blood.

The librettist and priest, Rufinus Widl, modified Ovid's story (in which Apollo, Zephyrus, and Hyacinthus clearly constituted a homosexual love triangle) to make it conform to the ethic, by changing the sexually desired character from Ovid's Hyacinth to Melia, his sister.

The opera was intended to be performed as an ''intermedium'', played between the acts of a verse drama, ''Clementia Croesi'', which likewise deals with the questions of guilt, revenge and forgiveness. Clementia Croesi is based on the ''Histories'' of Herodotus (1.34-45). It was published with an English translation in 2009.

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