Ep. 31 Semiramide by Rossini
On this episode of Opera for Everyone we listen to Semiramide by Gioachino Rossini which is based on Voltaire's tragedy Semiramis, which in turn was based on the legend of Semiramis of Assyria.
This is an opera in two acts set to an Italian libretto by Gaetano Rossi. The story is set in the ancient kingdom of Assyria and the action takes place in Babylon around the Eight Century BCE.
Semiramide is a queen whose husband, King Ninus, died 15 years prior to the action of this story. The opera begins as Semiramide is about to announce who will be Assyria's next King. The queen's covert lover, Assur, is certain his loyalty over the past 15 years will be rewarded with a crown. Several hopeful candidates have arrived including Arsace, who is later revealed to be Nino - the long lost son of Semiramide and King Ninus.
Arsace is in love with the princess Azema, who is also in love with him. We learn that before the King was killed and Arsace/Nino was taken away, that he and Azema were betrothed. Although it's unclear why they have such strong feelings upon first encountering one another their destiny together seems sealed.
The story follows the twists and turns of several hopeful Kings jockeying for position, and the appearance of the ghost of King Ninus who reveals that Arsace is his son and that he must avenge his death by killing Semiramide or Assur who conspired to kill the King 15 years ago.
In the end, Nino, Semiramide, and Assur descend into the tomb of King Ninus, and Nino is compelled to avenge his father's death. In the dark of the tomb, Nino takes aim and strikes - only to learn that he has killed his mother when he intended to kill Assur. The opera ends on a happier note with the marriage of Nino and Azema.
Hosted by Keely Herron and Pat Wright.