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Opera Abbreviated Podcast: Gioachino Rossini's 'Semiramide'

Ken Howard
The Metropolitan Opera
A scene from Act I of Rossini's 'Semiramide,' with Angela Meade in the title role

The Metropolitan Opera presents Gioachino Rossini's Semiramide, broadcast live from New York in HD to movie theaters worldwide at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 10.

Say this title fast three times: Semiramide (She-mir-AH-mee-day).

This was Rossini's last opera for Venice, and his last opera in general save for William Tell, written in French for Paris. Semiramide is a four-hour spectacle based on a play by Voltaire.

Semiramide takes us to ancient Babylon, at the court of Queen Semiramis. There's regicide, madness, mistaken identity, borderline incest and lots of magnificent singing.

Add an orchestra heavy on the winds and brass and a large, involved chorus, and you have musical spectacle, complicated drama and a vocal feast.

Don't be put off by the length or unfamiliarity. The Met is reviving Semiramide after 28 years. (I was there in standing room the first night of the Met's previous run!)

Prior to 1990, the most recent performance had been in 1894 with Nellie Melba. The Met's production is gaudy and opulent, a throwback to different times. There's not a trench coat, ironing board or folding chair in sight!

See you March 10. I'll be the one with the large tub of popcorn, extra butter. Come sit by me!

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.