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Work data
Title: Semiramis
Original title: Semiramide
Title page of the libretto, Venice 1823

Title page of the libretto, Venice 1823

Shape: Opera seria in two acts
Original language: Italian
Music: Gioachino Rossini
Libretto : Gaetano Rossi
Literary source: Sémiramis by Voltaire
Premiere: February 3, 1823
Place of premiere: Teatro La Fenice , Venice
Playing time: approx. 4 hours
Place and time of the action: Ancient Babylon
  • Semiramide , Queen of Babylon, widow of King Nino ( soprano )
  • Arsace, General of the Babylonian Army ( Alt )
  • Assur, Prince, descendant of Belus / Baal ( bass )
  • Idreno, King of the Indus ( tenor )
  • Azema, princess, descendant of Belus / Baal (soprano)
  • Oroe, head of the magicians / priests (bass)
  • Mitrane, Captain of the Royal Guard (tenor)
  • King Nino's ghost (bass)
  • Satraps , magicians / priests, Babylonians, Indians, Egyptians, Scythians, princesses, female bards, foreign women ( choir )
  • Royal guards, temple servants, noble ladies, girls and boys (silent roles)

Semiramide is an opera seria (original name: "melo-dramma tragico") in two acts by Gioachino Rossini (music) with a libretto by Gaetano Rossi . It was premiered on February 3, 1823 at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice and is Rossini's last opera composed for Italy. Rossini wrote the title role for his wife Isabella Colbran .



Semiramide , Queen of Babylon , poisoned her husband, King Nino , with the help of her lover Assur . Their son Ninia, at that time still an infant or toddler, was rescued by a confidante Ninos, a Scythian general in the Babylonian service, and raised as his son Arsace. Ninia has been missing in Babylon since Nino's death. Neither Ninia / Arsace himself nor his mother Semiramide know of his identity, only the high priest Oroe, who also knows Nino's cause of death, unknown to the public. Semiramide has ruled alone since Nino's death and has become increasingly estranged from Assyria. Ninia / Arsace has grown up and is a successful general himself; his foster father has died.

short version

first act

Assur has succeeded in putting Semiramide under pressure to appoint a successor to Nino. He assumes that she will stick to the agreement at the time and make him king. However, Oroe and Arsace oppose Assur. Assur and Arsace also compete for the love of Princess Azema, who is also courted by the Indian King Idreno. Assur, as the prince of divine blood, believes he is safe both in the throne and in the hand of Azema, and looks down with contempt on the "Scythian" Arsace. However, Arsace knows that Azema loves him.

Semiramide publicly announces that the new Babylonian king will also become her husband, which is received with horror by all aspirants. She mentions the name Arsaces and asks Oroe to trust her immediately. Oroe and Arsace are equally appalled, this one because of his love for Azema and the other because he knows that Arsace is Semiramides' son. Assyrian is beside himself with anger. Idreno seizes the opportunity and asks Semiramide for Azema's hand, which he also promises. In the general chaos, the spirit of King Nino appears, demanding that a sacrifice be made for guilt that has not yet been atoned for. When asked, he does not make any more specific statements. Everyone present is shocked, the marriage of Semiramide and Arsace does not take place at first.

Second act

Assur makes Semiramide heavy reproaches about the broken promise and seeks revenge. Meanwhile, Oroe hands over the sword and crown to King Nino in a secret ceremony in the temple of Baal's Arsace. When Arsace rejects this in horror, Oroe reveals his true identity to him as well as the fact that Nino was murdered by Assur and Semiramide. Arsace swears vengeance on Assyria, but begs forgiveness for his mother. Oroe orders him to go to Nino's grave at night, where a god will lead the victim of his vengeance.

Arsace asks Semiramide to marry Azema. However, Semiramide is still determined to marry Arsace himself. He then reveals to her that he is her son and that he knows about his father's murder. She bursts into tears and asks him to kill her to avenge his father, but he refuses. Assur waits near Nino's grave for Arsace, whom he wants to kill in revenge for the lost throne. Semiramide goes there as well and asks Nino's spirit for protection for Arsace and forgiveness for himself. Arsace arrives with Oroe, priests and guards; he is convinced that Assyria is the chosen victim. At Oroe's instruction, Arsace stabs in the dark. Oroe orders Assur to be arrested as Nino's murderer and announces that Arsace is King Ninia. When Arsace wonders where the blood on his sword comes from, if Assur is still alive, he has to discover, amid Assur's mockery, that he has killed his mother. He now wants to take his own life, which Oroe and the priests prevent. The opera ends with a chorus of homage to King Arsace.

The following table of contents is based on the libretto of the original version from 1823.

first act

Festively decorated, magnificent temple of Baal

Alessandro Sanquirico: first act, scene 1, Milan 1824

Scene 1. Surrounded by his magician-priests, High Priest Oroe prays at the feet of the statue of Baal in anticipation of the "moment of terror of vengeance and justice". (Introduction: “Sì… gran nume… t'intesi”) He then opens the temple gates for the people and international guests.

Scene 2. Babylonians, Indians with their King Idreno and Assyrians with Prince Assyr enter the temple and make their offerings to the deity. Queen Semiramid plans to appoint King Nino's successor today. Idreno hopes to find the reward for his love. Assur, on the other hand, firmly believes that he will be chosen himself. Oroe, knowing Assur's character and actions, is appalled.

Scene 3. Semiramide, Princess Azema and Captain Mitrane appear, accompanied by the royal guards and the entire court. After the new arrivals were cheered by the people, Assyrian asked Semiramide to swear that she would appoint Nino's successor. Semiramide looks around uncertainly. She hesitates because she misses someone among those present. Finally she begins with her explanation: "Des Nino ..." Then a clap of thunder sounds and the altar fire goes out. Semiramide asks Oroe the reason for Heaven's anger. Oroe, with his eyes fixed on her and Assur, declares that there are still unpunished crimes. He awaits the saying of the oracle of Memphis. Then the future king could be chosen. Assur reminds Semiramide of their common past. She wants to wait for the aspirants to the throne in the palace. Everyone leaves the temple.

Scene 4. Oroe hopes for the justice of the gods and fears for the fate of Semiramides. He enters the inside of the temple.

Scene 5. The Babylonian general Arsace appears with two slaves carrying a locked chest. He reverently looks at the temple to which his father Fradate had ordered him while still on his deathbed (recitative: “Eccomi alfine in Babilonia”). Now Semiramide has appointed him to her palace. He hopes to see his lover Azema there again, whom he once saved from barbarians (Cavatine: "Ah! Quel giorno ognor rammento").

Scene 6. Oroe warmly greets Arsace. Arsace hands him the chest. It contains his father's estate - pledges that no one has seen before. It is a document, the royal crown and a sword. Oroe reveals to Arsace that his father was killed by poison and betrayal and should be avenged by this sword. When he sees Assyria coming, he withdraws. Two priests follow him with the chest.

Scene 7. Assyrian accuses Arsace of leaving the Caucasian army camp without his orders. Arsace justifies himself with the queen's command - and his love for Azema. Assur points out to him that Azema was of royal blood and had been promised to Ninias since childhood. Only Assyrian demigods like him are allowed to court them, but no “Scythians”. Assyrian, however, knows of Ninia's fate. He does not know and fear no one who might confront him. His love is genuine and is reciprocated by Azema, while Assur only loves the throne. Assur responds with haughty threats (duet: "Bella imago degli dèi").

Vestibule in the palace

Alessandro Sanquirico: first act, scene 8, Milan 1824

Scene 8. While Azema is happy about the arrival of her lover Arsace (scene “O me felice!”), Idreno approaches her. He too hopes for her hand, but worries about his rival Assur. Azema explains to him that she despises him. Idreno assures her of his love (aria: "Ah dov'è, dov'è il cimento?"). Azema is impressed with his speech. She could love him if Arsace didn't already have her heart.

Hanging gardens

Scene 9. Young kitharden and court ladies seek consolation for the still gloomy Semiramide. They promise her love joys with the returned Arsace (female choir: “Serena i vaghi rai”). Semiramide draws hope again (Cavatine: “Bel raggio lusinghier”).

Scene 10. Mitrane appears with a papyrus sheet. It is the expected oracle from Memphis. He prophesies that Semiramides' suffering will end when Arsace returns for a new wedding. Semiramide believes it is her own marriage. She assigns Mitrane to make the preparations for the wedding celebration. Everyone should come to their throne to hear their decision.

Scene 11. Arsace tells Semiramide of Assur's arrogance, who already considers himself the king and Azema's bridegroom. He will die with joy for them (Semiramide) but never serve Assyria. Semiramide assures him that Azema will not marry Assyrian under any circumstances. You know of his plans and will punish him. She also knows his (Arsace's) loyalty and purity. He could hope for anything from her. Arsace confesses how steeped he is with love. Both surrender to "sweet images [...] of peace and blessings" (Duettino: "Serbami ognor sì fido").


Scene 12. Assur and Oroe meet for the first time in fifteen years. Oroe reminds Assur of the night of horrors in which the Assyrians lost the king and his son Ninia - he fixes Assyr with his gaze. Assur does not respond. He warns Oroe and Arsace not to get in his way. Oroe trusts in the help of his God who will punish the traitor.

Magnificent place in the palace overlooking Babylon

Alessandro Sanquirico: first act, scene 13, Milan 1824

On the right the throne, on the left the vestibule to the mausoleum of King Nino.

Scene 13. The dignitaries enter to the singing of the people and the priests. The royal guards are first followed by the satraps with their entourage, then Oroe and the priests who carry an altar, then Idreno, Assur and Arsace with their entourage, and finally Semiramide, Azema, Mitrane and the ladies-in-waiting. Everyone hopes that the empire will finally get a new king (Finale I: “Ergi omai la fronte altera”). Semiramide ascends the throne. Azema, Assur, Oroe, Arsace and Idreno sit on the steps next to her. Semiramide makes those present swear to recognize whoever they have chosen as king. Then, to everyone's horror, she announces that the person in question should not only become king but also her husband. It was Arsace. While Azema, Oroe and Assur are still recovering from their horror, the people are already praising Arsace as the new king. Assur protests briefly, but is silenced by Semiramide. Only Idreno has hope. He asks Semiramide for Azema's hand. Semiramide grants it to him. Arsace points out that he was never interested in the throne. Semiramide ignores the objection and lets the priests step forward. At that moment the earth is shaking. Lightning flashes through the air, the gate to the mausoleum opens, and the ghost of Nino appears. He prophesies that Arsace will rule. But first a serious crime must be reconciled. Arsace should make an offering at his grave. Arsace promises that, but receives no answer when asked what the sacrifice should be. When Semiramide tries to follow him to the tomb, Nino rejects her. He will call her to him as soon as the gods want it. He steps back into the crypt. The gate closes behind him. All shudder at the wrath of the gods.

Second act


Scene 1. Mitrane has guards set up to watch Assyria.

Scene 2. He tells Semiramide that Assur has not yet left the palace despite her orders.

Scene 3. Assyria reminds Semiramide of their old friendship. She asks him if he is not afraid of the spirit of the king he has murdered. He points out to her that she herself produced the poison and promised him the throne and marriage. She replies that he led her to do so. She also had a son at the time, to whom she would now be only too happy to cede control. But he was murdered - perhaps even by Assyrian himself. Both accuse each other of the crimes of that time and think of the threat of the spirit (duet: “Se la vita ancor t'è cara”). Semiramide trusts in the protection of Arsace, whom Assyria must now recognize as his king. In the distance, festive music can already be heard to celebrate the new king. Both diverge under further mutual threats.

The interior of the sanctuary

Alessandro Sanquirico: Act Two, Scene 4, Milan 1824

Scene 4. The priests greet Arsace before his enthronement (chorus: “In questo augusto”). Arsace is ready to accept his fate (scene: “Ebben, compiasi omai”). Oroe prepares him for something terrible to happen. He has the crown, the sword and the document fetched from the estate of Arsace's father. As he puts the crown on him, he reveals his true identity: Arsace is Ninia, the supposedly murdered son of Ninos and Semiramides. He was saved by Fradate and raised under an assumed name. As proof, he shows him the document: a letter from Nino to Fradate that he had written on his deathbed. In it, Nino reveals the poisoning by Assyria and Semiramide and hopes that his son Ninia will one day avenge him. Arsace / Ninia sinks into Oroe's arms and asks him for consolation and help (Aria: “In sì barbara sciagura”). Oroe and the priests urge him to take the vengeance demanded of his father. Oroe hands him the designated sword. Imbued with renewed courage, Arsace accepts the task. Assyria should die. But the gods may be moved by his tears to forgive his mother.

Semiramides apartments

Scene 5. Mitrane tries to comfort Azema about the loss of her lover Arsace.

Scene 6. She sadly assures the arriving Idreno that she will obey her mother's orders and marry him. Idreno hopes for her love (aria: “La speranza più soave”). Court ladies, noblemen and Indians come to pick them up for the wedding ceremony in the temple. Idreno notices how Azema can barely hide her tears. He advises her to give up her impossible love in order to be happy with him.

Scene 7. Semiramide notices that Arsace is avoiding her. She wishes that he would show himself to the people adorned with a wedding. However, Arsace only has his revenge on Assyria in mind. Semiramide realizes that he knows about Nino's murder. Arsace advises her to flee from the wrath of heaven and shows her the document Ninos. After Semiramide has overcome her horror, she asks Arsace to kill her in order to avenge his father - but he explains that although she hates heaven, she is his mother (duet: "Ebbene ... a te; ferisci") . Overcome with feelings, they hug each other. Arsace says goodbye to her to make the requested sacrifice at his father's grave. Semiramide assumes that it is a blood sacrifice. She asks Heaven to protect Arsace.

Remote part of the palace, adjacent to the Ninos Mausoleum

Alessandro Sanquirico: Act Two, Scene 8, Milan 1824

Scene 8. Assyria has also gone to the mausoleum. He wants to intercept and murder Arsace there (scene: “Il dì già cade”).

Scene 9. The satraps allied with him tell Assyria that there is no longer any hope for him. Oroe gave a speech to the people and completely discredited him (chorus: "Oroe dal tempio escì"). Assur is not deterred by this. He approaches the mausoleum. Suddenly he flinches. He thinks he sees the spirit of Nino who confronts him. In his horror he pleads for mercy (aria: "Deh! ... ti ferma ... ti placa ... perdona"). The satraps wonder about his behavior. They finally manage to bring him back to his senses. He explains his madness to them with demonic influence. However, he does not lose heart and steps confidently into the mausoleum.

Scene 10. Mitrane learns of Assur's desecration of the tomb. He distributed guards around the mausoleum and went off to inform Semiramide.

Underground vault in Ninos mausoleum with its urn in the middle

Alessandro Sanquirico: Second act, scene 11, Milan 1824

Scene 11. The priests descend into the vault to face the intruder (Finale II: “Un traditor, con empio ardir”). They wonder who it could be and spread around the mausoleum. Oroe leads in Arsace and assures him that the deity will bring his sacrifice to him. Arsace assumes that it will be Assur and goes in search of him. Assur has now also appeared to kill Arsace. Finally, Semiramide appears. She is plagued by repentance, seeks forgiveness for Arsace and prays for protection for him. Both Arsace and Assur notice them and thus meet. All three linger together for a while, full of fear. The voice of Oroe sounds from behind the tomb: “Ninia, ferisci!” (“Ninia, strike!”). The three come to their senses again. Arsace tries to kill Assur, but accidentally meets his mother, who meets him at that moment. She sinks down behind the tomb. Oroe calls the priests and guards to arrest Assyria as Nino's murderer. He calls them Arsace as Ninia and their ruler. All prostrate themselves before Arsace. He realizes that Assyrian is still alive and wonders who he killed. While Assur is being led away, he notices the dead Semiramid - for him the only consolation in his defeat. Full of malice, he points out to Arsace that he has killed his own mother. Arsace is about to throw himself into his sword, but is held back by Oroe. He faints in his arms. The choir calls on him not to let his pain conquer him and celebrates him as the new king.



The orchestral line-up for the opera includes the following instruments:

  • Woodwinds: two flutes / piccolo flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons
  • Brass: four horns, two trumpets, three trombones
  • Timpani, bass drum , cymbals , triangle
  • Strings
  • On stage: Banda

Music numbers

The opera contains the following musical numbers:

  • Sinfonia

first act

  • No. 1. Introduction: "Sì ... gran nume ... t'intesi" (scene 1)
    • (Idreno and choir): "Là dal Gange a te primiero" (scene 2)
  • No. 2. Recitative (Arsace): "Eccomi alfine in Babilonia" (scene 5)
    • Cavatine (Arsace): “Ah! quel giorno ognor rammento "(scene 5)
  • No. 3. Duet (Arsace, Assur): "Bella imago degli dèi" (scene 7)
  • No. 4 scene: "O me felice!" (Scene 8)
    • Aria (Idreno): "Ah dov'è, dov'è il cimento?" (Scene 8)
  • No. 5. Women's choir: "Serena i vaghi rai" (scene 9)
    • Cavatine (Semiramide): "Bel raggio lusinghier" (scene 9)
  • No. 6. Duettino (Semiramide, Arsace): "Serbami ognor sì fido" (scene 11)
  • No. 7. Finale I: "Ergi omai la fronte altera" (scene 13)
    • (Tutti): "Qual mesto gemito" (scene 13)

Second act

  • No. 8. Duet (Semiramide, Assur): "Se la vita ancor t'è cara" (scene 3)
  • No. 9. Choir: "In questo augusto" (scene 4)
    • Scene: "Ebben, compiasi omai" (scene 4)
    • Aria (Arsace): "In sì barbara sciagura" (scene 4)
  • No. 10. Aria (Idreno): "La speranza più soave" (scene 6)
  • No. 11. Duet (Semiramide, Arsace): “Ebbene ... a te; ferisci "(scene 7)
    • (Semiramide, Arsace): "Giorno d'orrore" (scene 7)
  • No. 12th scene: "Il dì già cade" (scene 8)
    • Choir: "Oroe dal tempio escì" (scene 9)
    • Aria (Assur): "Deh! ... ti ferma ... ti placa ... perdona" (scene 9)
  • No. 13. Finale II: "Un traditor, con empio ardir" (scene 11)


The conductor Wilhelm Keitel described the score as one of Rossini's “musically richest and conceptually coherent”. After Rossini had mainly endeavored to create large ensemble scenes in his previous works, he returned to more traditional forms in Semiramide and placed the emphasis on solo arias and duets. The recitatives stand out clearly from the other numbers, but are particularly carefully composed. The "most imaginative and powerful" musical numbers are dedicated to Semiramide and Arsace, who also have two great duets. It follows the role of Assur with three outstanding numbers, including two duets. At least one duet is dedicated to each combination of these three people. In the finale of the second act there is a joint trio of the three main roles (“L'usato ardir”). The other roles such as the third heir to the throne Idreno and Arsace's lover Azema, on the other hand, are strongly pushed back. The lovers do not meet each other once in the entire opera.

The Rossini biographer Richard Osborne compared the opera with Tancredi, which had premiered ten years earlier at the same location . He viewed Semiramide in a way as its "new improved edition". The librettos for both operas were by Gaetano Rossi , and both are based on dramas by Voltaire . Rossini also developed the musical forms of Tancredi in Semiramide “majestically”. Osborne particularly emphasized the "richness and scope of the vocal and orchestral treatment and the compelling power of the dramatic process".

In the introduction, which is 700 bars long, the prehistory is told first (in Tancredi , however, there is an equivalent only 400 bars). This section contains various sections and highlights, the most significant of which is the clap of thunder in the third scene.

The role of Arsace is introduced similarly to Tancredi. Both characters do not appear at the beginning of the respective opera, but only arrive later from a distance. Arsace's arias, however, suffer somewhat from signs of a “solidification of forms”.

Like the introduction, the finale of the first act is also large. It contains a total of six sections in 900 bars. In the first part the horn theme of the overture returns and is then further processed as an a cappella choir . Two of the sections are in minor keys. They have a special quality. The first, “Qual mesto gemito”, contains a dark ostinato reminiscent of the Miserere in Verdi's Il trovatore . In the second of these sections in F minor, the spirit of Nino turns to Arbace. According to Chorley, the horror of this passage can be seen both in the rhythm and in the word declamation.

Other music numbers worth mentioning are:

  • The overture is based on themes from the opera itself. It has also become popular as a concert piece.
  • The Cavatine des Arsace “Ah! quel giorno ognor rammento ”(first act, scene 5), in which he thinks of his lover Azema.
  • The cavatine of the Semiramide "Bel raggio lusinghier" (first act, scene 9) - according to Richard Osborne the "most brilliant number of the score", a "brilliant showpiece, but a love song that also illuminates the personality of Semiramide."
  • The duettino Semiramide / Arsace “Serbami ognor sì fido” (first act, scene 11) - one of “Rossini's loveliest duets”. The final section quotes a crescendo from the overture.
  • The Andante aria of Arsace "In sì barbara sciagura" (second act, scene 4) with strong mood swings between despair and heroic determination.
  • The duet Semiramide / Arsace “Ebbene ... a te; ferisci ”(scene 7), in which Semiramide asks Arsace to kill her as a penance for the murder of Nino - according to Charles Osborne,“ Rossini at his most powerful, in its balance of musical and dramatic requirements ”.
  • The duet Semiramide / Arsace “Giorno d'orrore” (second act, scene 7).
  • Assur's insane aria "Deh! ... ti ferma ... ti placa ... perdona" (second act, scene 9), in which the orchestral colors of the opening scene announce the following disaster with flutes and low strings. Richard Osborne specifically points to the “torn declamation and burdensome rhythms” and considers this scene to be a forerunner of the banquet scene from Verdi's Macbeth .

Work history

Giulia Grisi as Semiramide, lithograph after a drawing by Alexandre Lacauchie

Semiramide is the last opera Rossini wrote for Italy. In the same year he left the country to accept invitations from London and Paris. He signed the contract with the theater management of the Teatro La Fenice in Venice on August 13, 1822. Its text provided for the opera to be left in the possession of the theater. Thus, he no longer had to worry personally about the future distribution of the opera, as the theater itself had an incentive to do so because of the high price.

Sofia Scalchi as Arsace, Metropolitan Opera 1894

The librettist Gaetano Rossi had already written the textbook for Rossini's early opera La cambiale di matrimonio (1810) and his first world success Tancredi (1813). As with Tancredi , he took up a tragedy by Voltaire , the tragedy of Sémiramis from 1748 . The legend of the Semiramis had been dramatically processed in Italy since 1593 and the subject of countless operas since Francesco Paolo Sacrati's Semiramide in India of 1648. Pietro Metastasio's libretto Semiramide riconosciuta from 1729, which was still in one in 1819, was particularly popular with opera composers Arrangement by Gaetano Rossi - was set to music by Giacomo Meyerbeer . Rossini's wife Isabella Colbran , who was slated to play the title role in the new opera, had also performed several times in other settings of this material by Marcos António Portugal , Sebastiano Nasolini and Johann Simon Mayr .

It was important to Rossini to avoid inconsistencies and illogical sequences, as they still occurred with Tancredi . Therefore, in October 1822, he worked on the new text with Rossi at his country estate in Castenaso . According to his own statement, it took him 33 days to compose the opera. Perhaps he had composed two or three numbers before then. Between the composition and the actual preparations for the performance in Venice, Rossini had several other assignments to complete. This included the performance of some cantatas and operas on the occasion of the Verona Congress and the establishment of Ricciardo e Zoraide for the Teatro La Fenice.

At the premiere on February 3, 1823 at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, in addition to the soprano Isabella Colbran (Semiramide), the mezzo-soprano Matilde Spagna (Azema), the contralto Rosa Mariani (Arsace), the tenors John Sinclair (Idreno) and Gaetano Rambaldi ( Mitrane) as well as the basses Filippo Galli (Assur) and Luciano Mariani (Oroe). The performance of the first act lasted 2½ hours, the second act another 1½ hours. In between, the ballet Adelaide di Guesclino , choreographed by Francesco Clerico, was performed. During the first act, audience reactions were mixed. The audience was not yet used to Rossini's newer, more complicated composition. However, that changed in the second act, which was received with enthusiasm. There were a total of 28 performances this season up to March 10th. Due to the extreme stress placed on the singers by the almost daily performances of this monumental work, it was shortened. Idreno's aria in the first act was always dropped. Other arias were left out or shortened depending on the singers' disposition. This practice led to anger among the audience, as a result of which the police stepped in and forced the singers to sing, sometimes against medical advice. In the London performances of the following year, Rossini insisted on the full reproduction.

Eugène Giraud : Caricature by Marietta Alboni in Semiramide at the Théâtre-Italy

The opera then quickly gained popularity. In 1823 there were performances in Naples and Vienna. In 1824 it was given on two different occasions at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples and on three occasions at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan as well as in Padua, Munich, London and Berlin. For the performance in London, which Rossini directed himself, he changed the ending, which now culminated in a choral lament. Contrary to some statements to the contrary, Rossini never authorized a happy ending. On the contrary, he extended Semiramide's agony for the Paris performances of 1825/26 and thus softened Arsace's change from grieving matricide to celebrated king. In this version, Semiramide wed her son to Azema while he was still dying. Opera remained in the repertoire of opera houses throughout the 19th century.

In 1860 the composer Michele Carafa supervised a French rehearsal at the Paris Opéra , for which he added ballet music. Rossini gave him the rights to this version.

In the first half of the 20th century the work was performed in a distorted form. In 1922 Gustav Kobbé said in his Complete Opera Book that the time of the Semiramide was over (“Semiramide 'seems to have had its day”). In the mid-1960s, however, there was a successful revival, largely thanks to Joan Sutherland , Marilyn Horne and the conductor Richard Bonynge . Sutherland first sang the title role in 1962 at a performance at La Scala in Milan with Giulietta Simionato , Gianni Raimondi and Wladimiro Ganzarolli under the direction of Gabriele Santini . The great success was a recording in December 1965 with Sutherland and Horne under the direction of Bonynge, which remained unmatched for more than a quarter of a century. In December 1990 Marilyn Horne sang the role of Arsace at the Metropolitan Opera New York under the musical direction of James Conlon . The production was by John Copley . In addition, Samuel Ramey acted as Assur and June Anderson and Lella Cuberli alternately in the title role. A video recording of this production was also released. In the meantime, Semiramide is again one of the most popular Rossini operas internationally.

In 1830 Gaetano Donizetti used a theme from Semiramide for Norina's performance aria "All 'udir che il mio tesor" in his opera I pazzi per progetto .

Among the performance material of the Teatro La Fenice, an autograph Spartitino with additional parts that had not found a place in the main score has recently been rediscovered. These have been incorporated into the critical edition by Philip Gossett and Alberto Zedda .


Semiramide has appeared many times on phonograms. Operadis lists 31 recordings in the period from 1962 to 2005. Therefore, only those recordings that have been particularly distinguished in specialist magazines, opera guides or the like or that are worth mentioning for other reasons are listed below.

Web links

Commons : Semiramide (Rossini)  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Text quotations based on the German version of Dresden from 1826

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e Semiramide. Comments on the Critical Edition by Philip Gossett and Alberto Zedda , accessed March 20, 2016.
  2. Semiramide. Music numbers on , accessed March 20, 2016.
  3. ^ Wilhelm Keitel , Dominik Neuner : Gioachino Rossini. Albrecht Knaus, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-8135-0364-X .
  4. a b c d e f g h Semiramide. In: Harenberg opera guide. 4th edition. Meyers Lexikonverlag, 2003, ISBN 3-411-76107-5 , p. 782 ff.
  5. a b c d e f g Reto Müller : Semiramide - Rossini's musical cathedral. In: Supplement to the CD Semiramide by Antonino Fogliani . Naxos 8.660340-42, 2012.
  6. a b c d e f g h i j k Richard Osborne: Rossini - life and work. Translated from the English by Grete Wehmeyer. List Verlag, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-471-78305-9 .
  7. ^ A b c d e f Charles Osborne : The Bel Canto Operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini. Amadeus Press, Portland, Oregon, 1994, ISBN 978-0-931340-71-0 .
  8. a b Semiramide - Brani significativi in the work information on , accessed on March 20, 2016.
  9. a b c d e Herbert Weinstock : Rossini - A biography. Translated by Kurt Michaelis. Kunzelmann, Adliswil 1981 (1968), ISBN 3-85662-009-0 .
  10. a b c d Richard Osborne:  Semiramide. In: Grove Music Online (English; subscription required).
  11. ^ Record of the performance on February 3, 1823 in the Teatro La Fenice in the Corago information system of the University of Bologna .
  12. ^ Gustav Kobbé: Semiramide. In: The Complete Opera Book ( Online at ).
  13. a b c d e Gioacchino Rossini. In: Andreas Ommer: Directory of all opera complete recordings. , volume 20.
  14. ^ Discography on Semiramide at Operadis, accessed on November 7, 2016.
  15. ^ Uwe Schweikert : Last Bastion. Review of the recording by Mark Elder. In: Opernwelt , January 2019, p. 24.