Händel's Semele from NZ Opera

Author: Poorhouse International

Poorhouse invites you to Witness the Wedding of the Year.

  • Semele from NZ Opera | Copyright: © Rebecca Tansley

    Semele from NZ Opera © Rebecca Tansley

The world première of Semele took place at Covent Garden on 10 February 1744, as part of Handel´s Lenten subscription series. Charles Jennens sarcastically referred to the new work as “no Oratorio but a bawdy Opera”. And indeed, the libretto does not very much read like a plot for a piece of sacred music. It is taken from the Metamorphosis by Ovid and relates the story of Semele who is supposed to be wedded to Athmus whom she does not love. During the wedding ceremony, she is abducted by her lover Jupiter. His wife, Juno, is outraged by her husband´s infidelity, visits Semele in the guise of her sister and persuades her to demand of Jupiter that he reveals himself to her in his true nature so that she may become immortal. Semele cannot resist the temptation, asks and is consumed in flames. Semele´s fate shows what happens when ambition overreaches itself. It represents the oldest and most contemporary of stories.

Director Rebecca Tansley found in Auckland Cathedral an ideal location. Her recording is full of surprises not least with a Jupiter abducting Semele on a motorbike. Emma Pearson as Semele, Amitai Pati as Jupiter and Sarah Castle as Juno are new faces on the opera circuit with wonderful voices. NZ Opera Baroque Orchestra, The Freemasons NZ Opera Chorus and the Holy Trinity Choir perform under the baton of Peter Walls.

Running Time 147 Minutes.

English title Semele
Production year 2021
Recording location Auckland Cathedral
Director Rebecca Tansley
Producer Terri Cumiskey



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