The day appointed by the gods when Queen Semiramide must give up her throne and choose a successor to rule Assyria, and marry Princess Azema, has arrived. At the great festival of Baal, the queen will declare who is to rule, and there will be a wedding and a coronation. But, Queen Semiramide falters. She knows who she wants to be the next king. It is not the malevolent and deceitful Prince Assur, although he thinks that their history has earned him the right. It also is not the kind-hearted Idreno, despite his honest and sincere love for Azema. No, she wants to crown the man she loves, Arsace, the commander of her army, but only if she rules by his side.
The mysterious circumstances surrounding King Nino’s death, 15 years before, give the priest Oroe cause for concern. He knows that unless the dead are resting peacefully, they will not stay buried. Putting his faith in the gods, he knows that the truth identity of those who poisoned the king and kidnapped his son and heir, Ninia, will be revealed at the appropriate time, and the right man will be crowned King of Assyria.
Rossini’s tragic opera, based on the legends surrounding Queen Semiramis, as they are brought to life in Voltaire’s play, is one which demonstrates Rossini’s incredible skill. Being probably as popular today as it was at its first performance in 1823, Semiramide is an excellent example of virtuosic bel canto vocal writing with some simply stunning arias and duets for the principal characters.
Semiramide guide sections