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- 07/20 Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” at Burning Man
- 07/12 Rising-star cellist Bryan Cheng receives Michael Measures Prize
- 07/04 Putting ‘Don Giovanni’ on a Truck, and Returning Opera to Its Roots
- 06/27 A Life of Toscanini, Maestro With Passion and Principles
- 06/19 Thomas Allen: ‘I fly the flag for opera as a great art form'
- 06/12 Yekwon Sunwoo wins the Cliburn Piano Competition
- 06/01 Jiri Belohlavek, Czech Conductor, Dies at 71
- 05/26 A Fast-Rising Czech Conductor Leads the Philharmonic
- 05/19 Royal Albert Hall invites the public to share memories
- 05/12 A Valiant Return to the Met Opera: This Week’s 8 Best Classical Music Moments
- 04/27 Composer Max Richter’s top five lesser-known classical music picks
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Hint: Not at their hands.
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- 03/29 Early Music Vancouver's back to Bach headlines classical music blitz
- 03/17 where have classical music’s uppercase letters gone?
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- 03/08 Fanny Mendelssohn's getting her due
- 03/02 Orchestral librarians: In The Line Of Fire
- 02/18 Is Rossini’s Cinderella overrated?
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- 01/15 Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Petrenko
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- 01/03 Karel Husa, a renown Czech-born composer, spent his last years in Apex
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- 11/16 Music aficionados are reviewing this incorrect Beethoven t-shirt and it’s hilarious
- 11/06 Zoltán Kocsis, pianist and 'giant of music', dies aged 64
- 11/01 BBC Proms announces Dubai dates
- 10/16 10 Questions for Conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner
- 10/09 RIP Peter Allen, a Voice on the Radio for the Met Opera
- 10/03 Sir Neville Marriner on studying violin during the Blitz
- 09/28 Simon Keenlyside in ‘Don Giovanni’ [ Video ]
- 09/16 St Kilda lost songs album tops classical music chart
- 09/09 Antonio Pappano on Norma
- 08/29 Female Conductors: time to take the baton
- 08/20 Jules Buckley, the Conductor who is on a mission to rid the Proms of its image
- 08/14 David Lang's 'the public domain' Beats the Heat
- 08/03 Grisey: Les Espaces Acoustiques CD review – profound and with a huge physical presence
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On this week's WCPE Opera House, the late Al Ruocchio (1937-2007) presents Gioachino Rossini's Semiramide. First performed in Venice in 1823, Semiramide was once famously called the last and most beautiful of the great baroque operas. The description is in some respects inaccurate: later Italian composers looked back to it on occasion, and Verdi's Aida unquestionably owes something to its monumentality. Rossini's source is a play by Voltaire that overlays the legend of Semiramide, the promiscuous queen of Babylon, with echoes of the myths of Orestes and Oedipus, together with overtones of Macbeth.
Following an Overture that borrows themes from the opera itself (thereby making it unsuitable for use in another work), the high priest Oroe (bass Spiro Malas) declares the day sacred to Baal and calls upon Queen Semiramide (soprano Joan Sutherland) to choose her successor to the throne of Babylon. Prince Assur (bass Joseph Rouleau) hopes to be chosen. As Semiramide calls upon Nino, her dead husband, there is a clap of lightning and the sacred fire on the altar goes out. Arsace (mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne in a "trouser" role), commander of the army, returns at the command of Semiramide. He eagerly anticipates his reunion with his beloved Princess Azema (soprano Patricia Clark). Before his death, Arsace's father told his son to give certain possessions to the high priest Oroe. This Arsace does. Oroe tells Arsace that his father was murdered--and implicates Prince Assur, who is furious that Arsace has returned to the capital. Assur tells Arsace that he intends to marry Azema. Semiramide herself is in love with Arsace. She is comforted by an oracle that predicts her sufferings will end when Arsace marries. Semiramide names Arsace as her Consort and husband. Assur protests. The Queen gives Azema to the Indian King Idreno (tenor John Serge). An earthquake indicates the wrath of the gods. Nino's Ghost (bass Michael Langdon) returns from the grave and commands Arsace to avenge his father.
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Assur reminds Semiramide that she mixed the poison that he administered to Nino. "You convinced me that I was about to be banished," the Queen responds. She places her hopes in Arsace. Assur swears revenge. Oroe reveals to Arsace that he is in fact Ninias, son of Nino--and that Semiramide is his mother. When Arsace tells Semiramide the truth about their relationship, she begs him to kill her--but he forgives her instead. Idreno longs for Azema's love. The nobles loyal to Assur warn him that he has been exposed by Oroe. Assur decides to catch Arsace and kill him when he enters Nino's tomb. An invisible hand grabs Assur and thrusts him to the ground, but the prince recovers and ignores the warning. Oroe, Arsace, Semiramide and Assur all descend into Nino's tomb. Arsace kills Assur and is hailed by the people.
Richard Bonynge conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and the Ambrosian Singers in this 1966 Decca/London recording, CD number 4757918.
From a 1963 performance of Semiramide, Joan Sutherland demonstrates why she was known as "La stupenda" and "Prima donna assoluta" as she easily sings "Bel raggio lusinghier":
Please join me next Thursday, August 24th, for two performances of Hector Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict, based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Janet Baker and Robert Tear sing the title roles in a 1977 studio recording; Enkeleda Shkosa and Kenneth Tarver do the same in a “live” 2000 concert recording, both conducted by Sir Colin Davis.
The WCPE Opera House is heard every Thursday evening at 7 o’clock in the Eastern time zone on 89.7 FM in central North Carolina, and we’re streamed Live online at on our Internet page or you can listen on WCPE's Android or iPhone apps.
— W. Robert Chapman, Host of the WCPE Opera House
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When your contribution is at least $50.00, you may, in lieu of choosing a gift, designate that 10% of your donation go toward the WCPE Education Fund. Please check the appropriate box in the Secure Pledge Form!
The Metropolitan Opera Announces the 2017-18 Season
The Metropolitan Opera’s 2017-18 season will feature 220 performances of 26 works, including two Met premieres, one co-commissioned by the company and one an older masterpiece having its first Met performances; a variety of repertory favorites, three in new productions; and performances of Verdi’s towering concert work for soloists, orchestra, and chorus, the Requiem.
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