Opera Scotland

Zelmira

Music
Gioachino Rossini (born Pesaro, 29 February 1792; died Paris, 13 November 1868)

Text
Andrea Leone Tottola

Source
Drama Zelmire (1762) by Dormont de Belloy (Pierre-Laurent Buyrette 1727-1775).

Premières
First performance: Naples (Teatro San Carlo), 16 February 1822.
First UK performance: London (King’s Theatre, Haymarket), 24 January 1824.
First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Usher Hall), 30 August 2003 (concert).
Scottish Opera première: N/A.

Background
Zelmira was the final opera composed by Rossini for Naples, exploiting the talents of the prima donna Isabella Colbran and the two amazing tenors Andrea Nozzari and Giovanni David. It was successful at its first performance and over the next few years it was seen in most major operatic centres, including London. Tottola’s libretto is nothing special, but Rossini produced some extraordinarily dramatic music, in places almost reminiscent of Beethoven, perhaps appropriately, since after the Naples run the leading singers all moved to Vienna to repeat their success.

Characters
Antenore, claimant to the throne of Lesbos (tenor)
Leucippo, a follower of Antenore ()
Polidoro, deposed King of Lesbos (bass)
Zelmira, his daughter (soprano)
Emma, Zelmira’s attendant (mezzo-soprano)
Ilo, a Trojan prince, married to Zelmira (tenor)
Eacide, a follower of Ilo (tenor)
High Priest of Jupiter (bass)

Plot Summary
The plot concerns another spin-off tale derived from the various ramifications of the Trojan Wars. Ilo, a Trojan prince, is married to Zelmira, daughter of Polidoro, King of Lesbos. In his absence, attending to business in Troy, a coup is staged, and Polidoro is deposed and believed dead. However Zelmira has effected his escape, and he lives on concealed in a vault. Leucippo, who had himself staged the murder attempt, convinces the populace that Zelmira was responsible. When Ilo returns even he is convinced of this unlikely event. The methods by which Zelmira is eventually able to restore order are involved, but musically effective.

The Cast

Emma
 Zelmira's confidante
High Priest
 of Neptune
Antenore
 usurping King of Lesbos
Eacide
 a follower of Ilo
Ilo
 a Trojan prince, married to Zelmira
Leucippo
 a follower of Antenore
Polidoro
 deposed King of Lesbos
Zelmira
 daughter of Polidoro

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