La Calisto is an opera by Francesco Cavalli with a libretto by Giovanni Faustini. The libretto was published in 1651 by Giuliani and Batti. The opera received its first performance on 28 November 1651 at the Teatro San Apollinare, Venice. At the time, the San Apollinare was equipped with complex stage machinery, which the theatre intended to use in the premiere production of La Calisto to impress audiences with stage spectacle. However, the first performances had small audiences, as the run of 11 performances from 28 November to 31 December 1651 attracted only about 1200 patrons to a theatre that housed 400. In addition, Faustini died during the first run, on 19 December.1
The opera has been more successfully revived in modern times. Raymond Leppard's "realisation" (as he termed his orchestrations) for Glyndebourne was significant for creating new audiences for baroque opera; the recording of this production has been re-released on compact disc (see "Selected recordings" below).
The story is based on the myth of Callisto from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Jane Glover has commented on the treatment of the story of Callisto in the opera in the context of contemporary Venetian opera, and how the librettist had to invent complications to formulaic plots to meet audience demands.2