L'Europa riconosciuta

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Work data
Title: L'Europa riconosciuta
Theater poster, 1778

Theater poster, 1778

Shape: Dramma per musica
Original language: Italian
Music: Antonio Salieri
Libretto : Mattia Verazi
Premiere: August 3, 1778
Place of premiere: Teatro alla Scala , Milan
Playing time: approx. 2 ½ hours (with ballet)
Place and time of the action: Ancient Tire
  • Europe , Asterios wife and Queen of Crete ( soprano )
  • Asterio , King of Crete (soprano)
  • Semele , fiancee of Isséo (soprano)
  • Isseo , General and Prince of Tire ( Alt )
  • Egisto , Phoenician vassal ( tenor )
  • Choir [ladies-in-waiting from the entourage of Europe, attackers, horsemen, grandees of the Phoenician Empire, priests of the nemesis, Phoenician guards and soldiers]
  • Son of Europe and Asterios (silent role)
  • Extras [Phoenician cavalry, Phoenician guards and soldiers, Cretan soldiers and pages, slaves from Cyprus]

L'Europa riconosciuta ( German  The Recognized Europe ) is a dramma per musica in two acts by Antonio Salieri based on a text by Mattia Verazi . The premiere took place on August 3, 1778 at La Scala in Milan .


The historical notes, which formed his libretto for Verazi the background, came from the Genealogia deorum gentilium of Giovanni Boccaccio ; the action takes place in Tire , the Phoenician capital and its surroundings.


Asterio , King of Crete , stole the beautiful Princess Europe , who was already betrothed to Prince Isseo , from Tire and secretly married her. Her father Agenor , the king of Tire, commissioned his sons to find them, to avenge the iniquity and to bring them back. When none of the sons returns and Agenor has to consider them dead, he regulates the succession to the throne in such a way that his niece Semele , who is now in love with Isseo, is to be given as wife to the noble warrior who can redeem his oath of vengeance and kill the first stranger approaching Tire. At the news of Agenor's death, Asterio sets off with Europa for Tire to declare her claim to the throne. This is where the plot of the opera begins.

first act

The overture ( Tempesta di mare ) depicts the sea storm that destroys the Cretan ships. Asterio, Europa and their young son washed up on the beach with some of their entourage. In the first scene one learns the prehistory after a Cavatine Asterios (I.1: “Sposa… Figlio… Ah voi piangete!”). Egisto , a Phoenician vassal, approaches with an escort of mounted soldiers and takes the strangers prisoner (I.2: trio with choir). Egisto comes from a distant province and has therefore never seen Europe. He leads the strangers to the palace in order to take the revenge on Asterio demanded by Agenor and thus to share the throne with Semele.

A dispute between Semeles and Egisto (I.3: scene and duet) is followed by a warlike Marcia with a chorus: Isseo returns with his troops and prisoners from a victorious campaign from Cyprus (I.4: “Le spoglie guerriere”). Semele greets the general and leaves no doubt that she wants to marry him, even though he was once engaged to Europe. Isseo agrees (I.5: duet “Ah se gli affetti miei”).

The grandees of the empire have gathered for the high council (I.6: chorus "O Temide immortale"). Asterio is interrogated by Egisto. When Europe came on the scene, everyone recognized her (Accompagnato “Il re di Creta”). Semele jealously observes Isseo's joy and confusion at seeing Europe again. She decides to support Egisto in his plan to kill Asterio (I.7: Finale I “Qual silenzio”).

Second act

Egisto tries to persuade Isseo to flee with Europe and enjoys the anticipation of his triumph (II.1: aria “Vantar di salda fede”). Isseo secretly meets Europe. Their love seems to blossom again, but the honesty of Europe, loyal to her husband, causes her to suppress her inclination towards Isseo (II.2: Aria des Isseo and duet with Europe “Perder l'oggetto amato”; II.3: Aria der Europe "Ah, io sento il suo tormento"). Semele, alone in her room, is plagued by jealousy and doubts (Cavatine II.4: “Fra mille pensieri”). Isseo comes and tells her about Egisto's intrigue; Semele is beside himself (II.5: aria “Mi lascia in abbandono”).

In the Temple of Vengeance, Asterio bids farewell to Europe and his son and is led by priests to the sacrificial death (II.6: Aria “Del morir l'angoscie adesso”; II.7: Choir of the priests “Sul mesto tumulo”). Suddenly there is a fight: Isseo's troops fight the usurpers, Isseo kills Egisto in a duel (II.8: scene “Stragi o ritorte”). Isseo stands protectively in front of Semele. This sings a great bravura aria accompanied by oboes (II.9: “Quando, più irato freme”).

Finale and final chorus (II.10: “A regnar su questa sede”): Europe is recognized again as the legitimate queen, but she and Asterio generously renounce the throne in favor of Isseo and Semele.

Origin and composition

Salieri wrote his great opera seria for the inauguration of the now world-famous Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Originally Christoph Willibald Gluck was supposed to write the opening opera, but he declined for scheduling reasons and suggested his friend and student Salieri instead. As librettist Salieri was the private secretary and court poet of the Bavarian - Palatine Elector Karl Theodor to: Mattia Verazi (ca. 1730-1794), a highly progressive set artist who already with Johann Christian Bach , Ignaz Holzbauer , Niccolò Jommelli or Tommaso Traetta worked had and tried very hard to help serious opera with unconventional dramaturgical approaches to a new bloom.

Salieri's composition, which was quite progressive for its time, mixes elements of Gluck's newer reform opera with the traditional means of opera seria. So found z. For example, there is no interchangeable overture independent of the piece , the action begins immediately with a musical storm at sea - called Tempesta di mare . In addition to the bravura arias, there are also short ariosi , ensembles , choirs and numerous Accompagnati , which Salieri calls in to counter the schematism of the typical number opera with larger dramaturgical units .

In keeping with the custom of the time, two great ballets choreographed by Claude Le Grand (approx. 1742-1818) and Giuseppe Canziani were integrated into the performance , Pafio e Mirra ossia I prigionieri di Cipro after the first act and Apollo placato ossia La riapparizione del sole dopo la caduta di Fetonte after the second. The music for the first ballet came from Salieri's pen and is almost completely preserved; the second ballet was set to music by Louis de Baillou [also Baylou, Baillon, Ballion, Ballioni, Baglioni ] (approx. 1735 – approx. 1809) and is considered lost. The whole performance ended with a piece of tribute music that had also been lost, consisting of an accompanato and an aria followed by a choir.

Contemporary reception

The premiere of the work was celebrated enthusiastically, not least because of the splendid staging and the participation of singers such as the soprano Franziska Lebrun-Danzi in the role of Semele. The opera contains extraordinarily difficult vocal parts, the coloratura of which are among the most complex that was composed for voices in the classical period. The work was never performed again in the following years, but individual arias were repeatedly performed in concert during Salieri's lifetime, as many copies show.

Salieri later adopted the overture to the opera, with slight changes, in his "Dramma eroicomico" Cesare in Farmacusa from 1800, from where it clearly influenced the thunderstorm in Ludwig van Beethoven's 6th symphony (Pastorale) .

Performances in recent times

It was not until December 2004 that the opera experienced its first new production: for the reopening of the renovated Scala it was a. a. with Diana Damrau , Desirée Rancatore and Genia Kühmeier under the musical direction of Riccardo Muti , directed by Luca Ronconi and in the set and costumes by Pier Luigi Pizzi , performed again with great success and broadcast by numerous radio and television companies worldwide. A recording is now available on DVD. A concert performance of the opera took place before the Milan premiere in the Wiener Konzerthaus .

The soprano Diana Damrau sings two excerpts from the opera on her album, which was released in November 2007, the aria from Europe "Ah lo sento il suo tormento" and Semele's aria with oboe oboe "Quando più irato freme".

The ballet suite played at the Milan revival , which mainly consisted of numbers from the ballet opera Don Chisciotte alle nozze di Gamace , is now regularly performed in concerts by Muti, e. B. in Vienna 2006 (with the Vienna Philharmonic ) and in Paris and Budapest 2008 (with the Orchester National de France ).

The original ballet Pafio e Mirra , newly edited and partially reconstructed by the composer Timo Jouko Herrmann, was performed again for the first time in October 2007 by the Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Thomas Fey and published on CD.


  • Elena Biggi Parodi: Catalogo tematico delle composizioni teatrali di Antonio Salieri. LIM, Lucca 2005, ISBN 88-7096-307-1
  • G. Kramer: Antonio Salieri and the Milan Scala: L'Europa riconosciuta as the opening performance in 1778. In: Österreichische Musikzeitschrift , 56/1 2001 (pp. 28–37)
  • Herbert Lachmayer (Ed.): Salieri sulle tracce di Mozart. Catalog book for the exhibition in the Palazzo Reale di Milano on the occasion of the reopening of La Scala in Milan on December 7, 2004. Bärenreiter, Kassel 2004, ISBN 3-7618-1834-3

Web links

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