Melodramma tragico in two acts

Composer Gioacchino Rossini · Libretto by Gaetano Rossi after "Sémiramis" by Voltaire
In Italian with English and German surtitles | New Production

Wednesday, 15. February 2017
06:00 pm – 09:55 pm

Duration est. 3 hours 55 minutes · 1. Akt (est. 06:00 pm - 07:55 pm ) · Interval (est. 07:55 pm - 08:25 pm ) · 2. Akt (est. 08:25 pm - 10:00 pm )

Introductory Event: 05:00 PM · Young Audience

Prices L

Premiere at 12. February 2017

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  • Koproduktion mit dem Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London

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Musikalische Leitung
Michele Mariotti
David Alden
Paul Steinberg
Buki Shiff
Robert Pflanz
Beate Vollack
Michael Bauer
Frauke Meyer
Daniel Menne
Stellario Fagone

Joyce DiDonato
Alex Esposito
Daniela Barcellona
Lawrence Brownlee
Elsa Benoit
Simone Alberghini
Galeano Salas
L'ombra di Nino
Igor Tsarkov
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Learn more

Queen Semiramide is haunted by the ghosts of her past. Together with her lover Assur, she once murdered her husband King Nino; a deed which ever since has weighed heavily upon her. With her marriage to Arsace, she hopes her soul will at last find solace. Her love, however, is misplaced. Arsace not only loves another, he is also, as is later revealed, the son Semiramide and Nino believed to be dead. He is faced with a decision: should he avenge the death of his father – and thus become his mother's killer? 

Gioachino Rossini's final opera seria, one of his most-performed works in the 19th century, shows his protagonists in their desperate attempts to escape the remorseless grasp of fate, to maintain control over the consequences of their own actions and to free themselves from the inscrutable entanglement of power, violence and passion.


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The story

Past History
A decade and a half previously, Semiramide, the Queen of Babylon, poisoned her husband, King Nino, with the help of her former lover, Assur. Semiramide has reigned alone in Babylon since that time. In the commotion caused by the assassination Ninia, the son of Semiramide and Nino, disappeared and has not been seen since.

Act One

In the Temple of Baal, Oroe, the high priest, falls into a state of ecstasy while praying. The deity informs him that the moment for revenge and justice is nigh. The Babylonians as well as rulers and people from other countries, among them the Indian Prince Idreno and his retinue, stream into the temple: they all expect that Semiramide will finally announce the successor to the throne that day. Assur is convinced that she will name him as king because of his loyalty over many years. Semiramide tries to postpone making the decision as she is awaiting the arrival of the young commander, Arsace, whom she has ordered to come to Babylon as she plans to make him king. The crowd, however, urges her to make a quick decision. Just as she is on the point of announcing the name of the future king, a bright flash of lightning strikes and extinguishes the sacred flame on the altar. Everyone sees this as a sign that disaster will befall Babylon.

Arsace arrives in Babylon. He is longing to see Princess Azema, whom he has loved ever since he saved her life. Oroe reveals to Arsace how King Nino fell victim to betrayal.

In a fierce verbal exchange, Arsace and Assur realise that they are both rivals for Azema’s hand. They accuse each other of actually only aspiring to become king. There is also a third person wooing Azema: the Indian Prince Idreno. Azema is, however, in love with Arsace.

Semiramide is happy as she awaits the arrival of Arsace, with whom she is secretly in love. She also hopes that he will be able to put an end to the emotional turmoil that has troubled her for a long time. She considers herself supported in this hope by the words of an oracle according to which she will find peace on Arsace’s return. Semiramide wants to keep her feelings for Arsace secret for the time being. Arsace goes into raptures about his love for Azema without, however, mentioning her name. Semiramide mistakes these expressions of passion as being meant for herself.

Semiramide holds audience in the throne room not far from the tomb of King Nino. To general surprise, she announces that she has chosen Arsace to be king and that he will also become her husband. She grants Idreno Azema’s hand in marriage. When Semiramide orders Oroe to marry her to Arsace she is again interrupted by thunder and lightning. The tomb opens, to everyone’s horror Nino’s ghost emerges. He prophesies that Arsace will reign, before that, however, an old crime must be expiated and a sacrifice offered. Arsace swears to the ghost that he will follow his instructions and asks him whom he should kill, but the ghost disappears without saying another word.

Act Two
Semiramide and Assur engage in mutual recrimination over the crime of Nino’s death. The queen also suspects that Assur murdered her son, Ninia. Assur demands that Semiramide should keep her promise to make him king. She, on the other hand, stays firm in her intention to marry Arsace. Assur swears revenge.

Oroe discloses to Arsace his true identity: Arsace is, in fact, Ninia, the son of Semiramide and Nino. Oroe has also gathered from a letter written by Nino as he lay dying that the latter was murdered on Semiramide’s orders. Arsace (in fact, therefore, Ninia) is shocked. Oroe gives him the sword that once belonged to Nino in order that he can be revenged.

Idreno learns from Azema that she is still in love with Arsace. He reminds her that Semiramide has given him her hand in marriage and Azema decides to obey the queen. Idreno promises that they will be happy together.

Arsace reveals to Semiramide that he is the son she assumed was dead. She expects that he will kill her as revenge for his father’s murder, but Arsace forgives his mother. He hurries to Nino’s tomb to kill Assur.

At the tomb, Assur has a frightening vision: he imagines he is at the mercy of a terrifying ghost who is threatening to destroy him. When the figure has disappeared, Assur enters the tomb. Inside he comes across Arsace in the company of Oroe. Oroe commands Arsace to strike Assur with the sword but in the darkness of the tomb he fails to stab Assur but kills his mother, who has followed her son. Semiramide dies. Assur is arrested on Oroe’s orders. Oroe prevents Arsace from taking his own life in his despair. Meanwhile the people celebrate and rejoice in the new King of Babylon.

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Michele Mariotti wurde in Pesaro geboren und studierte Komposition am dortigen Rossini-Konservatorium sowie Dirigieren an der Accademia Musicale Pescarese. Von 2008 bis 2014 war er Chefdirigent der Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, von 2015 bis 2018 Generalmusikdirektor des Teatro Comunale. Gastengagements führten ihn u. a. an De Nationale Opera Amsterdam, die Metropolitan Opera in New York, das Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London und die Deutsche Oper Berlin sowie zu den Salzburger Festspielen. Er trat mit Orchestern wie dem Gewandhausorchester Leipzig und dem Orchestre National de France auf. Zuletzt dirigierte er u. a. Don Pasquale und La traviata an der Opéra national de Paris, Giuseppe Verdis I masnadieri am Teatro alla Scala in Mailand und Semiramide beim Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro. Mit diesem Werk debütierte er bereits 2017 an der Bayerischen Staatsoper. (Stand: 2020)

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