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Gioachino Rossini (born Pesaro, 29 February 1792; died Paris, 13 November 1868)

Andrea Leone Tottola

Drama Zelmire (1762) by Dormont de Belloy (Pierre-Laurent Buyrette 1727-1775).

First performance: Naples (Teatro San Carlo), 16 February 1822.
First UK performance: London (King’s Theatre, Haymarket), 24 January 1824.
First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Usher Hall), 30 August 2003 (concert).
Scottish Opera première: N/A.

Zelmira was the final opera composed by Rossini for Naples, exploiting the talents of the prima donna Isabella Colbran and the two amazing tenors Andrea Nozzari and Giovanni David. It was successful at its first performance and over the next few years it was seen in most major operatic centres, including London. Tottola’s libretto is nothing special, but Rossini produced some extraordinarily dramatic music, in places almost reminiscent of Beethoven, perhaps appropriately, since after the Naples run the leading singers all moved to Vienna to repeat their success.

Antenore, claimant to the throne of Lesbos (tenor)
Leucippo, a follower of Antenore ()
Polidoro, deposed King of Lesbos (bass)
Zelmira, his daughter (soprano)
Emma, Zelmira’s attendant (mezzo-soprano)
Ilo, a Trojan prince, married to Zelmira (tenor)
Eacide, a follower of Ilo (tenor)
High Priest of Jupiter (bass)

Plot Summary
The plot concerns another spin-off tale derived from the various ramifications of the Trojan Wars. Ilo, a Trojan prince, is married to Zelmira, daughter of Polidoro, King of Lesbos. In his absence, attending to business in Troy, a coup is staged, and Polidoro is deposed and believed dead. However Zelmira has effected his escape, and he lives on concealed in a vault. Leucippo, who had himself staged the murder attempt, convinces the populace that Zelmira was responsible. When Ilo returns even he is convinced of this unlikely event. The methods by which Zelmira is eventually able to restore order are involved, but musically effective.

The Cast

 Zelmira's confidante
High Priest
 of Neptune
 usurping King of Lesbos
 a follower of Ilo
 a Trojan prince, married to Zelmira
 a follower of Antenore
 deposed King of Lesbos
 daughter of Polidoro

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