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Gioacchino Antonio Rossini

Concertgebouw, Amsterdam

Myrto Papatanasiu ... Anna Erisso

Bruce Ford ............... . Paolo Erisso

Michele Pertusi ............. Maometto

Hadar Halevy ........................ Calbo

Paul Austin Kelly ...... Condulmiero

Paul Austin Kelly ................ Selimo

Netherlands Radio Chorus
Chamber Philharmonic

Roberto Rizzi Brignoli, direttore

12 maggio 2007

Maometto II (or Maometto secondo) is an 1820 opera in two acts by Gioachino Rossini to an Italian libretto by Cesare della Valle. Set in the 1470s during a time of war between the Turks and Venetians, the work was commissioned by the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples. Della Valle based his libretto on his earlier play Anna Erizo. The name of the title character, Maometto II, refers to the real-life Ottoman Sultan and conqueror of Constantinople Mehmed II, who lived from 1432 to 1481.

Regarded "in some ways [as his] most ambitious opera" and as "the best of Rossini's Neapolitan operas", Maometto II failed to find an audience in Naples and, "to help ensure [its] success in Venice and Paris, he smoothed out the most audacious elements of the score". Venice first saw it on 22 December 1822 and then, translated into French and changed significantly, it was presented as Le siège de Corinthe in 1826.

Until the preparation of the critical editions of Maometto II, the composer's original intentions remained obscure. The introduction to an early version prepared by musicologists Philip Gossett and Patricia Brauner (along with Claudio Scimone) notes some of the difficulties of determining what Rossini had intended:

Extraordinary for its dramatic power and the nobility of its musical content, Maometto II is also an opera that poses many textual problems, since Rossini's successive revisions were made directly in the autograph score. Using copies of the score dating back to the original productions of each of these versions, the critical edition reconstructs the text of the first version (Naples, 1820), which reflects the composer's original intentions.


Meometto II

Opera in two acts by Gioachino Rossini to an
Italian libretto by Cesare della Valle. 


Maometto II (Mehmed II)
Paolo Erisso,
head of the Venetians in Negroponte   
his daughter
Calbo, Venetian noble
Condulmiero, Venetian noble
Selimo, Muslim noble


Time: 1470
Place: Negroponte, in the Aegean Sea

Premiere cast, 3 December 1820



[For the Venice version, 1822: Rossini added an overture]



The palace of the Governor, Erisso

Byzantium has just fallen to the Turks, and the troops of Maometto II (Sultan Mehmed II) are laying siege at the Venetian city of Negroponte (Chalkis). Maometto has demanded the surrender of the city the following day.

Amongst the Venetians, a council of war is being held and different opinions as to proposed actions are expressed. Young Calbo pushes Paolo Erisso to go on fighting and defend the city, while General Condulmiero wishes to yield. The consensus is to continue fighting and the troops swear allegiance to Calbo.

Another part of the palace

Alone, Erisso's daughter, Anna, contemplates her father's plight. Aria: "Ah! che invan su questo ciglio" (Ah! In vain I call for sweet oblivion). Erisso enters along with Calbo, and he explains their situation, suggesting that she marry Calbo as additional protection. However, her discomfort is clear: she explains that she has fallen in love with a man named Uberto while her father was away in Venice. When told that this same Uberto traveled with Erisso and never remained in Corinth, she realizes that she has been duped by an unknown noble.

Trio: "Ohime! qual fulmine" (Alas, what a thunderbolt). Erisso gives her a dagger with which to defend herself if necessary.

[This begins the terzettone ("the big fat trio") which runs through the following 25 minutes of the action, including the tempo di mezzo of the cannon shot]
A cannon shot is heard, and Erisso and Calbo rush off to battle. Anna leaves to go to the church to pray.


A square outside the church

The women gather and, upon Anna's arrival, she learns from them that a traitor has allowed entry into the city by the Turks. Briefly, Anna prays: "Giusto cielo" (Merciful heaven, in such peril / no counsel, / no hope / is forthcoming). All take refuge in the church.

The city, the following morning

Maometto and his men enter the city, which he seems to know well. Selim is curious as to why, but his general reveals nothing. Then soldiers rush in and announce that Erisso and Calbo have been captured. Both men are led in, in chains. Maometto recognizes their gallantry, but demands that they and their men surrender and states that then all will be released. By his silence, Erisso rejects the offer and, as the two are about to be led away to be tortured, Anna and the women appear from the church.

Each character recognizes the situation with which they are confronted: Anna realizes that Maometto is the man who was her lover "Uberto"; Maometto is dumbfounded to re-discover Anna; and Erisso, similarly dumbfounded, cannot believe that she could have fallen for the Sultan. Each of the other characters also expresses their anguish or surprise. Anna threatens to kill herself unless Maometto releases Erisso and Calbo; he agrees. Although he is confused about her continuing love, he promises her a life of luxury.


Rossini - Maometto secondo - part 1

Rossini - Maometto secondo - part 2

Rossini - Maometto secondo - part 3

Rossini - Maometto secondo - part 4


Maometto's tent

Anna, who has been taken to Maometto's tent, is surrounded by Muslim girls who appeal to her to soften her feelings towards him. Indignantly, she rejects them and states her determination to escape. At that moment, Maometto enters. He says that he understands her conflicting emotions on discovering that Uberto is now Maometto, but he still loves her and wishes her to reign with him as queen of Italy while he will allow her father and Calbo (who has been described as her brother) to live. Rejecting him, she declares "I loved Uberto; I loath a liar" and continues to explain that her love for her country is so strong that she could never love him as much.

In their duet ("Anna, tu piangi? Il pianto / pur non è d'odio un segno" / Anna, are you crying? Your tears are not a sign of hatred...) her conflicting emotions are revealed with Maometto declaring that she will eventually be his and Anna stating "I love, but sooner would I be buried than yield to love".

Noise from outside is revealed to be Maometto's soldiers ready to continue their attack on the citadel. As he prepares to leave, Maometto promises that while he still has a hope of possessing Anna, he will protect her father. She insists on something to guarantee her safety in his absence and, as a symbol of his promise and his protection, he gives her his imperial seal of authority. Urged on by his captains, Maometto vows to fight or die as they leave for battle in the citadel: (Aria: "All'invito generoso" / At this gallant request). Anna vows to find a means of preserving her honor, and also leaves.

The church vaults with Anna's mother's tomb

Erisso and Calbo are hiding in the vault. Erisso speaks of his frustration, wishing that he could be fighting again in the citadel. He kneels before his wife's tomb wishing that he too was dead and not having to endure his daughter's disgrace and to see her with Maometto. Calbo tries to assure him that Anna was duped, that she is innocent, and that she was forcefully abducted by Maometto's men: (Aria: "Non temer: d'un basso affetto / non fu mai quel cor capace" / Do not fear: that heart was never capable of base emotions).

[Venice version, 1822: At this point, Maometto enters and confront the two men. Maometto proclaims that he still wishes to marry Anna, but Erisso states that he would rather kill his daughter. In a duet which becomes a trio, the three men lay their out their claims and feelings, Calbo asserting his love for Anna, Erisso revealing that Anna has become Calbo's wife, and when Maometto swears vengeance upon the two men, Calbo taunts him to return to the battlefield. The trio concludes with all three claiming that Anna shall be his reward—as a father, as a lover, as a husband. Maometto then leaves. All of the confrontation between Anna, her father, and Calbo is omitted].

While Erisso hopes that Calbo is right, Anna enters. Initially, he spurns his daughter for consorting with the enemy but she swears that she will never marry Maometto. As proof, Anna gives him Maometto's seal, which will enable both men to come out of hiding. However, she declares that she must die, but not before her father marries her to Calbo at her mother's tomb. Erisso clasps both their hands in his as they all stand beside the tomb: (Terzettino: "In questi estremi istanti" / In these moments...). The two men depart for the combat against Maometto.

Alone, Anna contemplates her situation (Aria: "Alfin compita è la metà dell'opra" / At last one half of the task is accomplished). From the church above the vaults, a chorus of women are praying: "Nume, cui 'l sole è trono" / O God whose throne is the sun... Turn your face again to us.

[Venice version, 1822: The women join Anna and a commotion is heard as the battle rages. Suddenly, the Venetian soldiers rush in proclaiming their victory and they are followed by Erisso and Calbo. Erisso embraces his daughter and tells her that she must give herself in marriage to Calbo: "Let your hand be the reward for his love". She agrees. (Aria: "Tanti affetti in tal momento" / So many emotions all at once, Rossini's aria from La donna del lago (1819).
With the women and soldiers singing of their joy, Anna joins Calbo at the altar as the opera ends.]

When the women stop, they call out to Anna and a few of them enter the vault to tell her that Maometto has been defeated by Erisso and has fled, but that her life is now in danger, since he will be seeking revenge. She tells them that she would rather die.

Maometto's men rush in, but they appear to be powerless to act, in spite of her demands: "Sì ferite: il chieggo, il merto" / Yes, strike: I ask it, I deserve it.

At that moment, Maometto and his captains enter and confront Anna. Maometto asks for his seal to be returned, but telling him that she gave it to her father and that she has married Calbo, she stabs herself and dies on her mother's tomb.

Mehmed II (30 March 1432 – 3 May 1481), commonly known as Muhammad al-Fatih the Conqueror (Turkish: Fatih Sultan Mehmet), was an Ottoman Sultan who ruled first for a short time from August 1444 to September 1446, and later from February 1451 to May 1481.

At the age of 21, he conquered Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) and brought an end to the Byzantine Empire. Mehmed continued his conquests in Anatolia with its reunification and in Southeast Europe as far west as Bosnia. Mehmed is considered a hero in modern-day Turkey and parts of the wider Muslim world.

Among other things, Istanbul's Fatih district, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and Fatih Mosque are named after him.


Sultan Mehmed II . 

The entry of Sultan Mehmed II into Constantinople, painting by Fausto Zonaro

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