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Noon Edition

Rossini: Semiramide, Overture

The reign of the mythical Assyrian queen Semiramis was marked by great achievement as well as incredible treachery. According to legend, Semiramis founded the ancient city of Babylon , which later became one of the most important cities of the ancient Near East when Hammurabi decided to make it the capital of his own kingdom. Semiramis murdered her husband King Nino in order to become queen, and after a long reign, it is said that she vanished in the form of a dove. This magical event caused her to be worshiped as a deity afterward. Her colorful life was the subject a play by Voltaire upon which Rossini based his last, and perhaps finest, opera. The splendor of the ancient city of Babylon, ruled over by Queen Semiramis, proved to be a fitting way for the great composer to close one phase of his career before beginning another.

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