Rossini: Semiramide

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4 disc set
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A complete studio recording of Rossini’s last and one of his greatest Italian operas, Opera Rara’s Semiramide, starring Albina Shagimuratova and Daniela Barcellona, conducted by Sir Mark Elder, includes all of the passages traditionally cut in modern revivals and makes this dramatic masterpiece speak in a new way to today’s opera audience.

Winner of 2019 International Opera Award for CD (Complete Opera)
Winner of 2019 International Classical Music Award in the Opera Category
Winner of 2019 Opus Klassik Award for Best Opera Recording
Winner of 2019 Edison Klassiek Award for Best Opera Recording
Opera category nomination for 2019 BBC Music Magazine Awards
Final Shortlist in Best Opera Recording category for 2019 Gramophone Awards

Płytomania (Polish Radio 2), Opera CD of the Year

Catalogue Number: ORC57 Categories: ,
  1. Sinfonia Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  2. “Sì, gran Nume, t’intesi” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  3. “Belo si celebri, Belo s'onori Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  4. “Là dal Gange a te primiero Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  5. “Di plausi clamor giulivo echeggia” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  6. “Di tanti regi e popoli che miri a te d'intorno” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  7. “Regina all'ara, e giura” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  8. “Ah! già il sacro foco è spento” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  9. “O tu de Magi venerabil capo” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  10. “Eccomi alfine in Babilonia” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  11. “Ah! quel giorno ognor rammento” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  12. “Ministri, al gran Pontefice annunziate” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  13. “Bella imago degli Dei” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  14. “D'un tenero amore, costante, verace” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  15. “Io tremar? di te? m'avvio Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  16. “O me felice!” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  17. “Ah dov'è, dov'è il cimento” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  18. “E se ancor libero – E il tuo bel core” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  19. “Se non avesse e meritasse Arsace” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:21
  20. “Serena i vaghi rai” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  21. “Dolce pensiero” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  22. “Ne viene ancor!” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  23. “Serbami ognor sì fido il cor” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  24. “Oroe dal tempio nella reggia” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  25. “Ergi omai la fronte altera” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  26. “I vostri voti omai” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  27. “Giuri ognuno a’ sommi dèi” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  28. “L’alto eroe, che dell”Assiria” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  29. “Qual mesto gemito” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  30. “D’un Semidio che adoro” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  31. “Ah! sconvolta nell’ordine eterno” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  32. “Alla reggia d”intorno cauto” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  33. “Se la vita ancor t’è cara” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  34. “Quella ricordati notte di morte” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  35. “Ma implacabile di Nino” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  36. “La forza primiera ripiglia il mio core” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  37. “In questo augusto soggiorno arcano” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  38. « Ebben, compiasi omai” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  39. “In si barbara sciagura” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  40. “Su, ti scuoti, rammenta chi sei” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  41. “Al gran cimento t'affretta ardito” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  42. “Calmati, Principessa” Rossini, G 0:30
  43. “La speranza più soave” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  44. “Tu mia sposa, a questo seno” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  45. “No, non ti lascio” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  46. “Ebbene, a te, ferisci” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  47. “Giorno d”orrore! E di contento” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  48. “Madre, addio” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:27
  49. “Tu serena intanto il ciglio” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  50. “Il dì già cade” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  51. “Ah! la sorte ci tradì” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  52. “Sì, vi sarà vendetta” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  53. “Deh! ti ferma, ti placa, perdona” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  54. “Ah! signore... Assur!” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  55. “Quei numi furenti” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  56. “Oh nero eccesso” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  57. “Un traditor. Con empio ardir” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  58. “Qual densa notte!” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  59. “Al mio pregar t'arrendi” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  60. “Dei! qual sospiro” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:03
  61. “L”usato ardir... il mio valore dovè?” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  62. “Ninia, ferisce” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30
  63. “Vieni, Arsace, al trionfo” Rossini, G Buy Track 0:30


A complete studio recording of Rossini’s last and one of his greatest Italian operas, Opera Rara’s Semiramide, starring Albina Shagimuratova and Daniela Barcellona, conducted by Sir Mark Elder, includes all of the passages traditionally cut in modern revivals and makes this dramatic masterpiece speak in a new way to today’s opera audience.


Gioachino Rossini SEMIRAMIDE

Tragic melodrama in two acts

Libretto by Gaetano Rossi after Voltaire’s ‘Sémiramis’


Semiramide, Queen of Babylon Albina Shagimuratova

Arsace, Commander of the Army Daniela Barcellona

Assur, Prince descendant of Belus Mirco Palazzi

Idreno, King of Indus Barry Banks

Oroe, High Priest of the Magi Gianluca Buratto

Azema, Princess descendant of Belus Susana Gaspar

Mitrane, Captain of the Royal Guards David Butt Philip

L’Ombra di Nino, Nino’s Ghost James Platt

Satraps, Magi, Babylonians, Indians, Egyptians, Scythians, Princesses, Citharists, Foreign Gentlewomen Opera Rara Chorus (Madeleine Venner, chorus master)

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (Matthew Truscott, leader)

Sir Mark Elder, conductor


Recorded at Henry Wood Hall, August/September 2016


Semiramide: Sinfonia 12:31

“Sì, gran Nume, t’intesi” (Oroe) 3:05

“Belo si celebri, Belo s’onori” (Chorus) 3:29

“Là dal Gange a te primiero” (Idreno, Assur, Oroe, Chorus) 6:16

“Di plausi clamor giulivo echeggia” (Chorus) 2:14

“Di tanti” (Oroe, Semiramide, Idreno, Assur) 4:01

“Regina all’ara, e giura” (Assur, Semiramide, Idreno, Oroe, Chorus) 1:11

“Ah! già il sacro foco è spento” (Semiramide, Idreno, Oroe, Assur, Chorus) 3:28

“O tu de’ Magi venerabil capo” (Semiramide, Oroe, Idreno, Assur) 3:47

“Eccomi alfine in Babilonia” (Arsace) 5:26

“Ah! quel giorno ognor rammento” (Arsace) 5:50

“Ministri, al gran Pontefice annunziate” (Arsace, Oroe, Assur) 4:23

“Bella imago degli Dei” (Arsace, Assur) 3:34

“D’un tenero amore, costante, verace” (Arsace, Assur) 3:03

“Io tremar? di te? m’avvio” (Arsace, Assur) 4:08

“O me felice!” (Azema, Idreno) 1:46

“Ah dov’è, dov’è il cimento” (Idreno) 3:54

“E se ancor libero – E il tuo bel core” (Idreno) 3:58

“Se non avesse e meritasse Arsace” (Azema) 0:21

“Serena i vaghi rai” (Chorus, Semiramide) 6:22

“Dolce pensiero” (Chorus, Semiramide) 2:54

“Ne viene ancor!” (Semiramide, Mitrane, Arsace) 4:26

“Serbami ognor sì fido il cor” (Semiramide, Arsace) 8:20

“Oroe dal tempio nella reggia” (Assur, Oroe) 2:55

“Ergi omai la fronte altera” (Idreno, Oroe, Assur, Azema, L’ombra di Nino) 5:28

“I vostri voti omai” (Idreno, Oroe, Assur, Azema, L’ombra di Nino) 1:05

“Giuri ognuno a’ sommi dèi” (Idreno, Oroe, Assur, Azema, L’ombra di Nino) 5:34

“L’alto eroe, che dell’Assiria” (Idreno, Oroe, Assur, Azema, L’ombra di Nino) 4:15

“Qual mesto gemito” (Idreno, Oroe, Assur, Azema, L’ombra di Nino) 6:24

“D’un Semidio che adoro” (Idreno, Oroe, Assur, Azema, L’ombra di Nino) 4:09

“Ah! sconvolta nell’ordine eterno” (Idreno, Oroe, Assur, Azema, L’ombra di Nino) 3:14

“Alla reggia d’intorno cauto” (Mitrane, Semiramide, Assur) 4:49

“Se la vita ancor t’è cara” (Semiramide, Assur) 4:01

“Quella ricordati notte di morte” (Semiramide, Assur) 4:13

“Ma implacabile di Nino” (Semiramide, Assur) 1:40

“La forza primiera ripiglia il mio core” (Semiramide, Assur) 3:57

“In questo augusto soggiorno arcano” (Chorus, Oroe) 5:42

“Ebben, compiasi omai” (Arsace, Oroe) 2:59

“In si barbara sciagura” (Arsace, Chorus, Oroe) 2:58

“Su, ti scuoti, rammenta chi sei” (Arsace, Chorus, Oroe) 2:28

“Al gran cimento t’affretta ardito” (Arsace, Chorus, Oroe) 3:24

“Calmati, Principessa” (Mitrane, Azema, Idreno) 2:01

“La speranza più soave” (Mitrane, Azema, Idreno) 2:02

“Tu mia sposa, a questo seno” (Mitrane, Azema, Idreno) 5:18

“No, non ti lascio” (Semiramide, Arsace) 3:27

“Ebbene, a te, ferisci” (Semiramide, Arsace) 5:17

“Giorno d’orrore! E di contento” (Semiramide, Arsace) 4:32

“Madre, addio” (Semiramide, Arsace) 0:56

“Tu serena intanto il ciglio” (Semiramide, Arsace) 3:19

“Il dì già cade” (Assur, Chorus) 4:42

“Ah! la sorte ci tradì” (Assur, Chorus) 2:36

“Sì, vi sarà vendetta” (Assur, Chorus) 1:26

“Deh! ti ferma, ti placa, perdona” (Assur, Chorus) 3:16

“Ah! signore … Assur!” (Assur, Chorus) 1:38

“Quei numi furenti” (Assur, Chorus) 2:44

“Oh nero eccesso” (Mitrane) 1:07

“Un traditor. Con empio ardir” (Chorus, Arsace, Oroe, Assur, Semiramide, L’ombra di Nino) 5:32

“Qual densa notte!” (Chorus, Arsace, Oroe, Assur, Semiramide, L’ombra di Nino) 3:08

“Al mio pregar t’arrendi” (Chorus, Arsace, Oroe, Assur, Semiramide, L’ombra di Nino) 2:44

“Dei! qual sospiro” (Chorus, Arsace, Oroe, Assur, Semiramide, L’ombra di Nino) 0:32

“L’usato ardir … il mio valore dovè?” (Chorus, Arsace, Oroe, Assur, Semiramide, L’ombra di Nino) 2:20

“Ninia, ferisce” (Chorus, Arsace, Oroe, Assur, Semiramide, L’ombra di Nino) 2:39

“Vieni, Arsace, al trionfo” (Chorus, Arsace, Oroe, Assur, Semiramide, L’ombra di Nino) 1:46


15 years have passed since Semiramide Queen of Babylon and her erstwhile lover Prince Assur murdered her husband King Nino and plotted to kill her child Ninia, the future king. Unbeknown to them, the child survived. Named Arsace by his foster-father, he is now a gifted young commander on the country’s Caucasian border. Dazzled by Arsace’s exploits, the queen has summoned him back to court, though it is Arsace’s love from the Babylonian Princess Azema, rather than the queen’s summons, that has caused his return.


Scene 1

A magnificent temple, erected to the worship of Baal, festively adorned. Crowds await the naming of a male successor to the throne which Semiramide has occupied since the late king’s death; Oroe, High Priest of the Magi, stands before the altar awaiting a sign. Also within the sanctuary are Prince Assur and Idreno King of Indus, aspirants to the throne and to the hand of Princess Azema. Semiramide arrives in state. Privately troubled by Arsace’s absence, she appears reluctant to name the new king. As she approaches the altar a blinding flash extinguishes the sacred flame. Unexpiated crimes, Oroe explains, have angered the gods. Arsace appears in the temple precinct carrying a casket given him on the deathbed of the man he believed to be his father. His thoughts are all of Princess Azema whose life he saved when he rescued her from brigands. The casket, Oroe reveals, contains mementoes of King Nino and a scroll which tells the truth about his murder. Assur upbraids Arsace for deserting his command and having the temerity to speak of his love for Princess Azema. Arsace protests that, unlike Assur, it is not the throne he seeks but Azema’s heart. Assur warns Arsace that he will destroy him. Azema is overjoyed by news of Arsace’s return, as is Idreno by Azema’s confession that she loathes Assur. Believing Assur to be his only rival, Idreno makes a fresh declaration of love to Azema.

Scene 2

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Semiramide’s mood is lightened by a group of young girls and cithara players celebrating Arsace’s return. She reflects on the enchantment a single ray of hope can bring after so much suffering. A pronouncement from the oracle gives further hope of new beginnings and future happiness. Assur’s threats are reported to the queen by Arsace. Swearing his own allegiance to the queen, Arsace tells of a new love that burns within him. Mistaking this as a declaration of love for her, Semiramide echoes the young man’s joyful mood.

Scene 3

A magnificent room in the royal palace with a view of Babylon. The throne is to the right; to the left is the antechamber of the mausoleum of King Nino. After demanding an oath of loyalty from the people of Babylon, Semiramide announces that Arsace is to be her consort and the nation’s king. Princess Azema will be given in marriage to Idreno. Arsace is appalled, Assur furious. As the High Priest moves to bless the marriage, the ghost of King Nino rises from the tomb. He decrees that the new king avenge his death with the blood of his murderers. The queen begs to join Ninus in his tomb as the people speculate about the identity of the regicides.


Scene 1

Palace atrium. Semiramide reminds Assur of his crime and threatens to expose him. In a mood of mutual recrimination, they quarrel over past events that now threaten to overshadow them.

Scene 2

Palace sanctuary. The High Priest reveals to Arsace that he is Nino’s son (to whom the Princess Azema was once promised) and rightful heir. Arsace accepts his role as his father’s avenger. He will kill Assur but prays that his father’s spirit might spare his mother.

Scene 3

Semiramide’s apartments. Idreno renews his suit to the grieving Azema. Tracked down by Semiramide, Arsace unfurls the scroll that reveals his own identity and Semiramide’s role in his father’s murder. Semiramide begs to be killed but Arsace’s response is generous. However hateful she is in the sight of the gods, she is his mother. Mother and son express their love for one another but Arsace remains duty-bound to enact his father’s wish and Semiramide knows that blood will be shed.

Scene 4

A remote area in the royal palace, adjacent to Nino’s mausoleum. Assur learns that his crimes have been revealed to the people. He plans to murder Arsace in the mausoleum but in a nightmare vision imagines his way is being blocked by the iron hand of the murdered Ninus. Half-crazed and fearing he is about to die, he begs for mercy. Roused by his henchmen, he shakes off his delirium and rededicates himself to his murderous task. The Captain of the Guard orders the mausoleum to be surrounded.

Scene 5

A subterranean room in the mausoleum; the urn containing Nino’s ashes is in the centre. Arsace descends into the vault with Oroe and the Magi in close attendance. Semiramide also makes her descent, determined to protect her son. As she prays to her late husband’s tomb, Arsace and Assur circle one another in the dark. On Oroe’s instruction, Arsace strikes at Assur but Semiramide steps between them and receives the fatal blow. As Assur is arrested, Oroe prevents Arsace from taking his own life. Outside the people proclaim Arsace king.

Synopsis by Richard Osborne


15 Jahre sind vergangen, seit Semiramide, die Königin von Babylon, mit ihrem damaligen Geliebten Prinz Assur ihren Gemahl König Nino ermordet hat und sie sich verschworen, Ninia, den Sohn des Königspaares und zukünftigen König, zu töten. Allerdings hat der Junge überlebt, was seine Mutter jedoch nicht weiß. Arsace, wie sein Ziehvater ihn nannte, ist mittlerweile ein genialer Feldherr, der an der kaukasischen Grenze des Landes dient. Begeistert von seinen Erfolgen, hat die Königin ihn an den Hof beordert. Er selbst jedoch findet sich weniger ihres Rufs wegen am Hof ein als vielmehr wegen seiner Liebe zur babylonischen Prinzessin Azema.

1. AKT

1. Szene

Ein prächtiger, festlich geschmückter Tempel Baals Die Babylonier warten gespannt auf die Benennung des männlichen Nachfolgers auf dem Thron, den Semiramide seit dem Tod ihres verstorbenen Gemahls selbst einnimmt. Oroe, der Hohepriester der Magier, steht am Altar und wartet auf ein Zeichen. Mit ihm im Heiligtum sind auch Prinz Assur und Idreno, König des Indus, die beide auf den Thron und die Hand Prinzessin Azemas hoffen. Semiramide tritt mit großem Prunk ein. Insgeheim ist sie über Arsaces Abwesenheit verstört und zögert offenbar, den neuen König zu benennen. Als sie sich dem Altar nähert, zuckt ein greller Blitz auf und löscht die heilige Flamme. Wie Oroe erklärt, haben ungesühnte Verbrechen die Götter erzürnt. Arsace erscheint im Tempelbezirk mit einer Truhe, die der Mann, den er für seinen Vater hält, auf dem Sterbebett gab. Seine Gedanken gelten allein Prinzessin Azema, die er dereinst aus den Händen der Barbaren rettete. Die Truhe enthält laut Oreo Andenken König Ninos sowie eine Schriftrolle, welche die Wahrheit über seinen Mord aufdeckt. Assur rügt Arsace, dass er seinen Posten verlassen habe und es überdies wage, von seiner Liebe zu Princess Azema zu sprechen. Arsace aber beteuert, im Gegensatz zu Assur gehe es ihm nicht darum, den Thron zu erringen, sondern das Herz Azemas. Assur droht, ihn zu vernichten. Azema ist überglücklich zu erfahren, dass Arsace an den Hof zurückgekehrt ist, ebenso glücklich ist Idreno über Azemas Geständnis, dass sie Assur verabscheut. Im Glauben, Assur sei sein einziger Rivale, beteuert er der Prinzessin erneut seine Liebe.

2. Szene

Die Hängenden Gärten von Babylon Semiramides Stimmung hebt sich, als eine Gruppe junger Mädchen und Kitharaspieler Arsaces Rückkehr feierlich besingen, sie sinniert über die Kraft, die ein einziger Hoffnungsstrahl nach derart großem Leid spendet. Ein Orakelspruch verheißt weitere Hoffnung auf einen Neuanfang und neues Glück. Arsace berichtet der Königin von Assurs Drohungen. Er schwört ihr seine Treue und gesteht, eine neue Liebe brenne in ihm. Semiramide glaubt, die Liebeserklärung gelte ihr, und stimmt in seine Freude ein.

3. Szene

Ein prachtvoller Saal im Königspalast mit Blick auf Babylon. Der Thron steht zur Rechten, linkerhand liegt der Vorraum zum Mausoleum König Ninos. Nachdem Semiramide den Treueschwur der Babylonier entgegengenommen hat, verkündet sie, dass Arsace ihr Gemahl und der König des Reichs werde. Die Hand Prinzessin Azemas gebe sie Idreno. Arsace ist entsetzt, Assur ist wütend. Als der Hohepriester die Ehe segnen will, steigt der Geist König Ninos aus dem Grab und verlangt, der neue König müsse seinen Tod mit dem Blut seiner Mörder rächen. Die Königin will Nino in seine Gruft begleiten, unterdessen mutmaßen die Menschen, wer den Königsmord verübt haben könnte.

2. AKT

1. Szene

Im Atrium des Palasts Semiramide erinnert Assur an seine Verbrechen und droht, sie zu enthüllen. Beide machen sich gegenseitig Vorwürfe und streiten über vergangene Ereignisse, die sie nun zu vernichten drohen.

2. Szene

Im Heiligtum des Palasts Der Hohepriester offenbart Arsace, dass er der Sohn Ninos ist (dem dereinst die Hand Prinzessin Azemas versprochen wurde) und dessen rechtmäßige Nachfolger. Arsace erklärt sich bereit, seinen Vater zu rächen, er werde Assur töten, bete aber darum, dass der Geist seines Vaters seine Mutter verschonen möge.

3. Szene

Die Gemächer Semiramides Idreno schwört der unglücklichen Azema erneut seine Liebe. Semiramide sucht Arsace auf, und er entrollt das Schriftstück, das seine Identität und die Rolle Semiramides beim Mord an seinen Vater offenbart. Die Königin fleht um den Tod, doch Arsace erklärt großmütig, so verabscheuungswürdig sie in den Augen der Götter auch sei, für ihn sei sie doch seine Mutter. Mutter und Sohn beteuern sich gegenseitig ihre Liebe, dennoch hat Arsace nach wie vor die Pflicht, dem Wunsch seines Vaters nachzukommen, und Semiramide weiß, dass Blut fließen wird.

4. Szene Ein abgelegener Bereich des Palasts neben Ninos Mausoleum Assur erfährt, dass er den Babyloniern als Verbrecher enttarnt wurde. Er plant, Arsace im Mausoleum zu ermorden, doch in einer alptraumartigen Vision sieht er, wie er von der eisernen Hand des ermordeten Ninos daran gehindert wird. Im Wahn und in Todesangst fleht er um Gnade. Schließlich bringen seine Begleiter ihn wieder zu sich, er besinnt sich der mörderischen Aufgabe, die er sich vorgenom men hat. Der oberste Wachoffizier befiehlt, das Mausoleum zu umstellen.

5. Szene

Ein unterirdischer Raum im Mausoleum, die Urne mit der Asche Ninos steht in der Mitte. Arsace steigt ins Gewölbe hinab, dicht gefolgt von Oroe und den Magiern. Semiramide begibt sich ebenfalls dorthin, sie will um jeden Preis ihren Sohn schützen. Während sie vor der Gruft ihres verstorbenen Gemahls betet, umkreisen Arsace und Assur sich im Dunkeln. Auf Oroes Geheiß hin versetzt Arsace seinem Gegner einen Hieb, doch Semiramide tritt dazwischen und fängt den tödlichen Streich ab. Während Assur festgenommen wird, hindert Oroe Arsace daran, sich das Leben zu nehmen. Draußen ruft das Volk Arsace zum neuen König aus.

Handlung: Richard Osborne (Übersetzt von Ursual Wulfekamp)


Sono trascorsi 15 anni da quando Semiramide, regina di Babilonia, ha assassinato con il suo amante re Nino, suo marito, e ha tentato di uccidere il figlio Ninia, erede del re. Il bambino è sopravvissuto, ad insaputa dei due; il padre adottivo l’ha chiamato Arsace e oggi è un giovane condottiero di talento ai confini del Paese con il Caucaso. Affascinata dalle sue imprese, la regina ha richiamato a corte Arsace, il quale ha obbedito all’ordine, ma soprattutto per amore della principessa babilonese Azema.


Scena 1

Un tempio magnifico, eretto per l’adorazione di Baal, festivamente adornato. La folla attende di conoscere il nome del successore al trono che Semiramide occupa dalla morte del marito; Oroe, capo dei magi, attende un segno davanti all’ara. Nel santuario si trovano anche il principe Assur e Idreno, re dell’Indo, aspiranti al trono e alla mano della principessa Azema. Arriva Semiramide in pompa magna e si avvicina all’altare, ma un lampo accecante spegne il fuoco sacro. Oroe lo interpreta come un segno dell’ira degli dèi, suscitata da colpe non espiate. Nel cortile del tempio entra Arsace: porta una cassetta che gli ha consegnato sul letto di morte l’uomo che ritiene suo padre. Pensa solo alla principessa Azema, che ha salvato dai briganti e che gli deve la vita. La cassetta, rivela Oroe, contiene ricordi del re Nino e un papiro che rivela la verità sul suo assassinio. Assur rimprovera Arsace per aver lasciato il campo e aver avuto l’audacia di parlare del suo amore per la principessa Azema. Il giovane ribatte che, a differenza di Assur, non desidera il trono, ma il cuore di Azema. Assur ammonisce Arsace che lo distruggerà. Sopraffatta dalla gioia alla notizia del ritorno di Arsace, Azema confessa a Idreno di detestare Assur. Credendo che Assur sia il suo unico rivale, Idreno rinnova la sua dichiarazione d’amore ad Azema.

Scena 2

I Giardini pensili di Babilonia. Semiramide si rasserena assistendo alle celebrazioni eseguite da un gruppo dame e citariste per il ritorno di Arsace, e riflette sull’incanto che un solo raggio di speranza può portare dopo tante sofferenze. Una dichiarazione dell’oracolo fa presagire altre speranze di nuovi inizi e futura felicità. Arsace riferisce alla regina le minacce di Assur, le rinnova il proprio giuramento di fedeltà e le rivela che un nuovo amore lo consuma. Pensando che si tratti di una dichiarazione, Semiramide risponde con gioia.

Scena 3

Una sala magnifica nel palazzo reale, con vedute di Babilonia. Sulla destra si trova il trono e, a sinistra, il vestibolo del mausoleo di re Nino. Dopo aver chiesto un giuramento di fedeltà al popolo di Babilonia, Semiramide annuncia che Arsace sarà suo consorte e re della nazione. La principessa Azema andrà sposa a Idreno. Arsace inorridisce, Assur va su tutte le furie. Mentre il Gran pontefice si avvicina per la benedizione nuziale, dalla tomba emerge l’Ombra di re Nino, il quale dichiara che il nuovo re dovrà vendicare la sua morte con il sangue dei suoi assassini. La regina prega di unirsi a Nino nella tomba mentre il popolo si chiede chi possano essere i regicidi. Atto


Scena 1

L’atrio del palazzo. Semiramide ricorda ad Assur il suo delitto e minaccia di renderlo pubblico. In uno stato d’animo di reciproca recriminazione, i due litigano sugli eventi del passato che adesso minacciano rovina.

Scena 2

Il santuario del palazzo. L’Alto Sacerdote rivela ad Arsace la sua identità: è figlio di Nino (a lui era stata promessa la principessa Azema) e suo erede di diritto. Arsace accetta il ruolo di vendicatore di suo padre. Intende uccidere Assur, ma prega che lo spirito di suo padre possa risparmiare sua madre.

Scena 3

Gli appartamenti di Semiramide. Idreno rinnova la sua proposta all’addolorata Azema. Rintracciato da Semiramide, Arsace apre il papiro che rivela la sua identità e il ruolo della regina nell’assassinio di suo padre. Semiramide implora di essere uccisa, ma Arsace reagisce con generosità: per quanto possa essersi resa odiosa agli dèi, la regina è sempre sua madre. Madre e figlio esprimono il loro amore reciproco, ma Arsace ha sempre il dovere di esaudire il desiderio di suo padre e Semiramide sa che questo provocherà uno spargimento di sangue.

Scena 4

Una parte remota della reggia, attigua al mausoleo di Nino. Assur viene a sapere che i suoi delitti sono stati rivelati al popolo e progetta di uccidere Arsace nel mausoleo, ma in una visione da incubo immagina che il pugno di ferro di Nino assassinato gli ostacoli la via. In un accesso di follia, temendo di essere vicino alla morte, chiede clemenza; poi, risvegliato dai suoi accoliti, si riprende per riprendere il suo compito assassino. Il capitano della guardia ordina che il mausoleo sia circondato.

Scena 5

Una stanza sotterranea nel mausoleo; al centro si trova l’urna contenente le ceneri di Nino. Arsace scende nella cripta seguito da Oroe e dai Magi. Scende anche Semiramide, decisa a proteggere il figlio e prega sulla tomba del marito defunto, mentre Arsace e Assur si affrontano nell’oscurità. In base alle istruzioni di Oroe, Arsace vibra un colpo ad Assur, ma Semiramide si frappone fra i due e riceve il colpo fatale. Assur viene arrestato e Oroe impedisce ad Arsace di uccidersi. All’esterno, il popolo proclama re Arsace.

Argumentto: Richard Osborne (Traduzione : Emanuela Guastella)


Quinze années se sont écoulées depuis que Sémiramis, reine de Babylone, a assassiné son époux, le roi Ninus, avec la complicité de son amant d’alors le prince Assur. Elle a aussi tenté de mettre fin aux jours de son propre fils, Ninias, héritier du trône. À son insu, l’enfant a survécu ; il a été recueilli et élevé sous le nom d’Arsace. C’est aujourd’hui un jeune chef militaire talentueux posté à la frontière du Caucase. Éblouie par les exploits d’Arsace, la reine l’a fait rappeler à la cour. Mais s’il est de retour à Babylone, c’est moins pour obéir aux ordres de la reine que pour revoir celle qu’il aime, la princesse royale Azéma.


Scène 1

Un magnifique temple de Bélus apprêté pour des festivités. La foule attend la nomination de celui qui succèdera à Ninus sur le trône occupé par Sémiramis depuis la mort du roi ; face à l’autel, le grand prêtre des Mages, Oroès, attend un signe. Le prince Assur et le prince indien Idrène, tous deux prétendants au trône et à la main de la princesse Azéma, sont présents. Sémiramis fait son entrée solennelle. Secrètement inquiète de l’absence d’Arsace, elle semble réticente à prononcer le nom du futur roi. Au moment où elle s’avance vers l’autel, un éclair éblouissant déchire l’espace tandis que s’éteint la flamme sacrée de l’autel. Des crimes impunis, explique Oroès, ont provoqué le courroux des dieux. Arsace pénètre dans le temple, portant un coffret que lui a confié sur son lit de mort celui qu’il croit être son père. Il est obnubilé par son amour pour la princesse Azéma, à qui il a sauvé la vie lors d’une attaque de brigands. Oroès révèle à Arsace que le coffret contient des reliques du roi Ninus et un parchemin révélant les circonstances de sa mort. Assur reproche à Arsace d’avoir abandonné son commandement et d’avoir la témérité de manifester son amour pour Azéma. Arsace lui répond que, contrairement à lui, ce n’est pas le trône qui l’intéresse mais le cœur d’Azéma. Assur menace Arsace de l’anéantir. Azéma se réjouit à l’annonce du retour d’Arsace, et Idrène de la haine qu’ Azéma lui dit porter à Assur. Persuadé qu’Assur est son seul rival, Idrène redit sa passion à la princesse.

Scène 2

Les jardins suspendus de Babylone. Dans une atmosphère de détente, des jeunes filles et des joueurs de cithares célèbrent le retour d’Arsace, et Sémiramis s’émerveille du bonheur qu’un seul rayon d’espoir peut susciter après tant de souffrances. L’annonce du verdict de l’oracle lui fait encore rêver de renouveau et de félicité. Arsace révèle à la reine qu’Assur a proféré des menaces contre lui. Il lui fait serment d’allégeance, tout en lui révélant qu’il brûle d’amour. Prenant ses paroles pour un déclaration amoureuse, Sémiramis partage la joie du jeune homme.

Scène 3

Une somptueuse salle du palais royal donnant sur Babylone, avec, à droite, le trône et, à gauche, l’entrée du tombeau du roi Ninus. Après avoir demandé aux Babyloniens de lui jurer obéissance, Sémiramis annonce que c’est Arsace qui sera roi et qu’elle le prendra pour époux. Idrène aura la main d’Azéma. Arsace est épouvanté, Assur furieux. Le grand prêtre s’apprête à bénir l’union lorsque soudain apparaît le spectre du roi Ninus. Il décrète que le nouveau roi devra venger son meurtre. La reine le supplie de la laisser rejoindre Ninus dans la mort tandis que le peuple s’interroge sur l’identité des régicides.


Scène 1

L’atrium du palais. Sémiramis rappelle son crime à Assur et menace de révéler sa culpabilité. Ils se répandent en récriminations et en reproches concernant le passé qui pèse sur eux.

Scène 2

Le sanctuaire du palais. Le grand prêtre révèle à Arsace qu’il est le fils de Ninus et son héritier légitime (et que la princesse Azéma lui était promise). Arsace accepte de venger son père. Il tuera Assur, mais espère que la vengeance paternelle épargnera sa mère.

Scène 3

Les appartements de Sémiramis. Idrène poursuit de ses assiduités Azéma, qui désespère. Traqué par Sémiramis, Arsace lui montre le parchemin qui révèle son identité et le rôle qu’elle a joué dans le meurtre de Ninus. La reine le supplie de la frapper à mort, mais il lui répond par la mansuétude. Quelle que soit la haine que lui portent les dieux, elle est sa mère. Mère et fils se disent leur affection, mais Arsace se doit de respecter les volontés de son père, et Sémiramis sait bien que le sang coulera.

Scène 4

Un recoin du palais royal, tout près du tombeau de Ninus. Assur apprend que ses crimes ont été révélés au peuple. Il entend tuer Arsace à l’intérieur du tombeau, mais dans une vision de cauchemar il s’imagine arrêté dans son élan par une main de fer, celle de Ninus assassiné. Sa raison s’obscurcit et craignant pour sa vie, il demande pitié. Secoué par ses hommes de main, il se ressaisit et reprend son dessein meurtrier. Sur les ordres du capitaine de la garde, le tombeau est cerné.

Scène 5

Une salle souterraine à l’intérieur du tombeau avec, au centre, l’urne contenant les cendres de Ninus. Arsace descend dans le caveau suivi de près par Oroès et les Mages. Sémiramis descend aussi, bien déterminée à protéger son fils. Tandis qu’elle prie sur la sépulture du roi, Arsace et Assur se cherchent dans l’obscurité. Sur l’indication d’Oroès, Arsace frappe Assur, mais Sémiramis s’interpose entre eux et reçoit le coup fatal. Tandis qu’Assur est arrêté, Oroès empêche Arsace de se donner la mort. Dehors, le peuple proclame Arsace roi.

Synopsis par Richard Osborne (Traduction: Mireille Ribière)

Press Reviews

Semiramide has more than its share of grandness, and in the trumpet-crowned procession as the Queen of Babylon prepares to announce her choice of king you can’t help but hear a pre-echo of Verdi’s *Aida*, still nearly 50 years in the future. Elder always has an ear for the lightness in such episodes, and they sound hearty but never bombastic. The Opera Rara Chorus sings some tough music thrillingly well.

BBC Music Magazine

The lavishly gifted Russian coloratura Albina Shagimuratova, she of the shining high E, and Daniela Barcellona, our finest contemporary Arsace, are both superb…This is an intensely theatrical performance, yet there is no rush in the larger shaping of the piece…And what a difference the old instruments make.


One of the outstanding features of this latest recording is Mark Elder’s insightful, highly dramatic leadership. At spacious tempos, the music breathes and Rossini’s orchestra shines like a newly restored painting…the present recording sets a standard as an overall achievement of the highest quality thanks to the collaboration of a well-attuned cast and a theatrically savvy conductor – not to forget the discriminating producer.

Opera Magazine

Elder’s inspired choice of the OAE brings bracing textures and nimble fingerwork to the composer’s most ambitious score…Albina Shagimuratova is an appealing and formidable antiheroine, Mirco Palazzi blusters villainously as Assur and Barry Banks’s strenuous Idreno offers ringing high notes. The Opera Rara Chorus excels.

The Sunday Times

This piece requires serious commitment…It’s worth parcelling it out to really appreciate the quality of the dazzling singing from a classy cast that also includes Mirco Palazzi, Barry Banks and David Butt Philip. And there is wonderfully crisp and alert playing from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

The Observer

This new recording…reveals Elder’s approach to Semiramide to be one of translucence and buoyancy, with clear textures and a refreshing respect for Rossini’s inventive orchestration, which exhibits far more than mere support for his soloists. Shagimuratova reveals a bright and mettlesome soprano, undaunted by the role’s demands, and firmly outlines Semiramide’s emotional decline and fall.

5 Stars

Classical Music Magazine

An Opera Rara recording is a love letter to Bel Canto fans. Not only does the company research, rediscover, restore, record, and perform the forgotten operatic heritage of the 19th century, but they offer it up to collectors in a vibrant and potent packaging that includes a generous booklet with an extended article about the opera, photos and lithographs from the original cast, and sets and photos of the recording session, plus the libretto. With that in mind, Rossini’s “Semiramide” seems like a strange choice for the company. While it is not one of the most performed Bel Canto operas, it isn’t overly obscure either. But what makes Opera Rara’s seminal recording so unique is that it offers a complete recording, using critical editions and research on the proper style and orchestration… Ultimately, this is an indispensable recording for Rossini and Bel Canto lovers with the voices of Albina Shagimuratova, Daniella Barcellona and Mirco Palazzi proving to be the most adequate singers for these roles nowadays. Whoever cast the opera definitely deserves high marks for these choices.


For this, I credit my new found interest in Rossini’s opera seria on two exceptional performances: Mark Elder’s new studio recording on Opera Rara, and Michele Mariotti and David Alden’s theatrically engrossing musically intense and sychronized Gesamtkunstewerk staging of the opera from the Bayerische Staatsoper. Elder’s recording from the laudable Opera Rara label perhaps represents the company’s pinnacle in orchestral finish, starry casting, virtuoso solo work, and theatrical interpretation. While most of Opera Rara’s earlier pressings of Rossini’s rarities were performed by technically capable if somewhat faceless ensembles and solo artists, the artistic team contracted for this project are of a calibre worthy of comparison beside the starriest products from larger recording studios… Despite its length, Elder’s intensely theatrical reading and exquisitely shaped and tinted orchestral backdrop create one of the most thought provoking visions of the opera, demonstrating how a score normally relegated to timekeepers comes alive when undertaken by an artist attuned to its rich musical details. Here, an opera that normally proceeds as a parade of virtuosic bel cantian quarter hours is unified into an absorbing music drama.


When you start listening, you realize that this recording is completely in line with Opera Rara’s artistic ideals and intentions. For the first time ever, Semiramide is heard in all its glory in a way that even Rossini himself could not have dreamt of.


Daniela Barcellona measures up to Marilyn Horne’s legendary interpretation in every way… her two duets with Albina Shagimuratova, particularly Ebbene, a te, ferisci, are utterly perfect… The Opera Rara chorus features frequently, and is completely brilliant.


Outstanding new opera recordings were similarly thin on the ground, though Opera Rara’s complete Semiramide, conducted by Sir Mark Elder, was an exception.

The Guardian

What you want to know is should you invest in the recording, and I would say that you should consider it seriously. Albina Shagimuratova in the title role has clearly evolved from her nightingale period and can tackle the extended range, both vocal and dramatic, of the part. Daniela Barcellona has been singing Arsace for almost 20 years, though you wouldn’t think so. Her lower notes remain impressive and her high notes offer no difficulties. Both handle the fioritura with an ease once thought unattainable… The orchestra clearly enjoys itself playing Rossini’s challenging score, woodwinds and horns especially to the fore, and we too enjoy ourselves while once again being overwhelmed by Rossini’s farewell to Italy. Elder has everything in hand and proves to be a Rossinian of stature. Benjamin Walton’s accompanying essay continues in the footsteps of the illustrious Jeremy Commons. Yes, we have experienced Sutherland, Horne, and Ramey, but the new school of interpreters is more than able to continue bringing these once-neglected works to life.


In this passionate performance, singing with her bright tone, the Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova is on top of the demands of the role… With his undoubted passion for the opera, Sir Mark Elder clearly infuses the same appetite into the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Quietly persuasive, Elder and his period instrument band are unquestionably on the same page, providing a convincing, ideally paced performance that is fresh and full of colour with some striking contributions. The Opera Rara Chorus doesn’t put a foot wrong, displaying good parity between real unity and expression… Making a compelling case for Rossini’s grand opera Semiramide, this magnificent Opera Rara release is hard to fault.

MusicWeb International

This new recording, made under the auspices of Opera Rara in association with performances at the BBC Proms in 2016, is meticulously complete, and all Rossini fans will want a copy for their collections. It is magisterially conducted by Sir Mark Elder, who honours the music’s pomp and majesty without sacrificing the lightness and precision that it also requires… The playing of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is exemplary throughout.

The Daily Telegraph

Mark Elder’s pace and control makes sure [this recording] never sticks in the mud. As the Queen of Babylon, Albina Shagimuratova’s dazzling coloratura is brilliantly effective, and as her vengeful long lost son Arsace, mezzo Daniela Barcellona is an attractively agile foil. The Opera Rara chorus is a tremendous asset in the big set pieces and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is outstanding… The epic of stature of Rossini’s final Italian opera is fully revealed, it’s a majestic performance captured in a wonderfully effective recording. **Disc of the Week**

BBC Radio 3 Record Review

Awards & Accolades

  • Winner of 2019 International Opera Award for CD (Complete Opera)
  • Winner of 2019 International Classical Music Award in the Opera Category
  • Winner of 2019 Opus Klassik Award for Best Opera Recording
  • Winner of 2019 Edison Klassiek Award for Best Opera Recording
  • Opera category nomination for 2019 BBC Music Magazine Awards
  • Final Shortlist in Best Opera Recording category for 2019 Gramophone Awards
  • Płytomania (Polish Radio 2), Opera CD of the Year