A critical study and translation of António José da Silva's Cretan labyrinth: a puppet opera
Labirinto de Creta is one of the eight Portuguese satiric operas, first performed in the Lisbon puppet theatre from 1733 to 1738. Their librettist, Antonio Jose da Silva, is an enigmatic and ill-fated figure. Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1705, he was sentenced to death at an auto-da-fe in Lisbon in 1739, for having practiced Judaism. By profession a lawyer, he frequented music circles, collaborating with the composer Antonio Teixeira on at least four occasions. Labirinto de Creta, combining a love intrigue with a comic treatment of the myth of Theseus slaying the Minotaur, is a thinly veiled satire on contemporary Portugal. With spoken dialogue, numerous musical items, and stage effects such as shipwreck, explosions and earthquake, the opera is suited to performance by actors as well as by puppets as in the original production, though unfortunately the score is not extant. Apart from the comedy of situation, the humor derives from the ebullient wit and puns of the servants, who mock their master's high-flown expressions of love and jealousy, and ridicule the despotic, hierarchical society in which they have to survive. This English translation, the first of any of these operas, is accompanied by an introduction and notes.
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