Semiramide (semi-staged)

Gioacchino Rossini [1792 – 1868]

Information on the piece

Melodramma tragico in two acts / Play version
Libretto: Gaetano Rossi based on Voltaire's "Le Tragédie de Sémiramis".
First performance: 3 February 1823 in Venice

approx. 3 hours 15 minutes / one interval

In Italian with German and English surtitles

45 Minutes before the performance: Introductory lecture (in German) in the Rang-Foyer

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About the performance

Rossini is unjustily reduced to his –indisputable- talent as composer of opera buffa works. His opera seria have always taken a back seat, well behind the BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA. His successful work ranges from IL CAMBIALE DI MATRIMONIO [Venice, 1810], his first opera, to his last opera, GUILLAUME TELL [Paris 1829].
They demonstrate a highly versatile development over twenty years with various genres, - from the ›farsa‹ to the opera buffa, from the opera seria to the grande opéra.

Verdi praised Rossini´s supple use of melody, his brilliant usage of cantabile in the vocal parts and his characteristic orchestral accompaniment; all these stand for a typically Italian sound culture on the opera stage. In 1823 Rossini marked the culmination point of the great Italian song opera with SEMIRAMIDE. With the interpretation of works by Wagner and Verdi the future was to hold completely novel developments in the vocal parts. The opera seria libretto varies from the opera buffa libretto in that it has typically a tragedy with characters from history and mythology as subject matter. The archetypes are presented in prescribed situations; the hero, the heroine, the scoundrel, the helpers are accordingly typified, which also reflects on the proportion and setup of their parts. However, at the centre of their impact on the stage, you will find artistic coloraturas and culinary embellishments that take precedence over the psychological and dramturgical development. The primadonna with her unique blend of virtuosity and caprice was the benchmark for composers, theatre directors and audiences in the era of belcanto.

Rossini defined himself as the »Last of the Classicists«. For SEMIRAMIDE, his masterpiece, he chose an archaic story, ideal for an»opera monumentale«. The legendary Queen of Assyria as leading character is caught up in complicated intrigues and family rivalries. There are the calls of blood, the divine oracle and of human conflicts to be weighed and considered. We are offered regicide, unintentional incest and accidental matricide, all in aid of the composer´s need to enrich theatrical situations with profound madness scenes, highly ornamental oaths of love, intense revenge arias and brilliantly impressive choir scenes. According to Rodolfo Celetti in his history of belcanto, SEMIRAMIDE is »the last opera in the great baroque tradition, the most beautiful, fantasy-filled, and quite possibly, the most perfect; but also – irretrievably so- the final one.«


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Today in the Foyer: "Beyond the Snow Queen"
with Alexandra Ionis, Oliver Boyd and Henriette Zahn
17.00 hrs / Rank foyer on the right
Duration: approx. 25 minutes / free admission

Since its premiere in 2019, THE SNOW QUEEN has been delighting not only children in the Tischlerei of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. This year, too, there are numerous performances on the programme. All the greater is the joy that Alexandra Ionis and Henriette Zahn from the cast of DIE SCHNEEKÖNIGIN have teamed up to create a little door of the Advent calendar. Together with Oliver Boyd, baritone in the chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, they present a colourful programme. In addition to Brahms, Schönberg and Kurt Weill, songs by the composer of the SCHNEEKÖNIGIN, Samuel Penderbayne, and his teacher Moritz Eggert will be heard as a special highlight.

Alexandra Ionis from Berlin studied at the Conservatorio di musica Giuseppe Verdi in Milan and at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. In 2016 she made her debut in Strauss' DIE ÄGYPTISCHE HELENA at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Other productions here at the house included DEATH IN VENICE, IL VIAGGIO A REIMS and IL TROVATORE. At the Staatsoper Unter den Linden she sang in Widmann's BABYLON, Reimann's GESPENSTERSONATE, the world premiere of Eötvös' SLEEPLESS, in DER ROSENKAVALIER and most recently in the new production of DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN as Schwertleite / DIE WALKÜRE.

Henriette Zahn is a pianist specialising in chamber music and song interpretation and studied in Munich, Lübeck and most recently in Wolfram Rieger's Lied class at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music Berlin. She has performed with the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra, the Karajan Academy, the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra and the Goldmund Quartet, among others. Performances have taken her to the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Schauspielhaus Hamburg, the Bremen Theatre, the Salzburg Festival and the Allerheiligen Hofkirche in Munich. She has worked closely with the composer Samuel Penderbayne and the pianist Anna Buchberger.

Oliver Boyd studied at the Queensland Conservatorium with vocal coach Gregory Massingham and at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin with Christine Schäfer. In September 2018, Oliver Boyd sang the lead role of Reverend Calloway in Paul Dean's opera DRY RIVER RUN. In 2017 he made his concert debut with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in the role of Dancairo / CARMEN. As a soloist he has appeared in Handel's Messiah, Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Haydn's Nelson and Paukenmesse, Mozart's Requiem, Vespers and Missa Brevis, and Schubert's Mass in G major. Oliver Boyd has won numerous prizes, including first prize in the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Aria Competition and Champion of Champions in the Queensland Eisteddfod. He was named as one of the Brisbane Lord Mayor's Young Artists. Since the 2021/22 season, Oliver Boyd has been a member of the 1st bass voice section in the chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin.