Composers and their stage works 

Iphigenia in Tauris

(Iphigeneia é en Taurois; Iphigenia Taurica, ca. 412 B.C.).


Adventure drama.


Iphigenia, spirited away by the goddess Artemis from the altar where her father Agamemnon was about to sacrifice her to ensure the success of his Trojan expedition, now lives in the barbaric land of Tauris. The cruel ritual of the country calls for the instant sacrifice of any foreigner who wanders across its borders, and Iphigenia, who has become a priestess in the Temple of Artemis, must fulfil the duty of consecrating the victims. Unknown to her, her brother Orestes, still pursued by the Furies in punishment for the murder of his mother Clytemnestra, arrives to carry out Apollo's instructions to steal the image of Artemis. Together with his close friend Pylades, Orestes is quickly captured by Taurian herdsmen and brought to his unsuspecting sister in preparation for sacrifice. Having learned that the captives are Greek, Iphigenia, who wants to inform Orestes of her whereabouts so that he may come to her rescue, offers to spare the life of one of them if he will take a letter to Argos. Orestes insists that Pylades be the one to go. When the message is read, Iphigenia's identity is discovered. She and Orestes are joyously reunited, and, joining in her brother's mission, Iphigenia conceives a plan for their escape. She convinces Thoas, King of Tauris, that one of the foreigners has defiled the image of Artemis by killing his mother and that, according to Greek custom, they and the image must be purified by a ceremony performed at sea. With Thoas's consent, the three are effecting their escape when a messenger arrives to tell him of the deception. Pursuit and bloodshed are averted only through the intervention of Athena, the dea ex machina. She forbids Thoas to take action against the fugitives, excuses Artemis's role in the proceedings, and foretells a happy future for all.