Semele

by George Frideric Handel • February 20, 23, 26, 28, March 2, 4, 2021

Semele is a Baroque gem by master composer George Frideric Handel. It is timeless tale from Greek antiquity about the pitfalls of ambition, vanity, and making open-ended promises.

Princess Semele wants to live her best life. To her, that doesn’t mean marrying Athamas, a mere human prince. She has her eyes on a bigger prize, none other than Jupiter, King of the Gods, who she thinks will fulfill her in ways no mortal ever could. 

Jupiter is a cad, who is all too happy to add Semele to his long list of human mistresses. His wife Juno is none too pleased, and hatches a sure-fire plan for revenge. Appearing as Semele’s sister Ino, Juno tricks Semele into making a fatal request. 

Jupiter, inflamed with passion, swears to give Semele whatever she desires. Semele insists that he appear to her in all his divine glory. Realizing this would kill her, since no human can withstand the awesome power of his thunderbolts, Jupiter tries in vain to change her mind. Undaunted, Semele insists. Being unable to rescind his oath to grant her request, Jupiter reluctantly complies, and the ensuing thunderbolts consume Semele in flames.

Join us for Pittsburgh Opera’s first-ever performances of Handel’s Semele, with a brand new production conducted by Music Director Antony Walker and directed by Kristine McIntyre.

Sung in English, with supertitles projected above the stage.

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Synopsis