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Gioacchino Antonio Rossini


Moïse - Samuel Ramey
Éliézer - Jean Dupouy
Pharaon - Jean-Philippe Lafont
Aménophis - Keith Lewis
Aufide - Robert Dumé
Osiride - Fernand Dumont
Marie - Magali Damonte
Anaï - Cecilia Gasdia
Sinaïde - Shirley Verrett

Conductor - Georges Prêtre 
Orchestra - L'Opéra de Paris
Chorus - L'Opéra de Paris

Mosè in Egitto (Moses in Egypt)  is a three-act opera written by Gioachino Rossini to an Italian libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola, which was based on a 1760 play by Francesco Ringhieri, L'Osiride. It premièred on 5 March 1818 at the recently reconstructed Teatro San Carlo in Naples, Italy.

In 1827 Rossini revised the work with a new title: Moïse et Pharaon, ou Le passage de la Mer Rouge (Moses and Pharaoh, or The Crossing of the Red Sea). It was set to a four-act libretto written in French by Luigi Balocchi and Victor-Joseph Étienne de Jouy and the première was given by the Paris Opera at the Salle Le Peletier on 26 March the same year.

Riccardo Muti and many scholars consider Moïse et Pharaon, along with Guillaume Tell, to be among Rossini's greatest achievements:

I prefer it because Rossini himself preferred it. Don't get me wrong. Mosè in Egitto is a wonderful opera, but it remains very much a mere sketch for Moïse et Pharaon.  And it's not just me who says that, but the great Rossini himself.



(Moses in Egypt) 

Opera in three-act by Gioachino Rossini,
Italian libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola


Mosè / Moïse (Moses)
Faraone / Pharaon (Pharaoh)
Amaltea / Sinaide,
his wife
Osiride / Aménophis, their son 
Elcia / Anaï, a Hebrew girl 
Aronne / Elézer (Aaron)
Amenofi / Marie (Miriam),
Moses' sister
Mambre / Aufide, a priest
Osiride, the High Priest 
A mysterious voice


Time: : Around 1230 B.C.
Place:   Egypt

Naples premiere cast, 5 March 1818

Paris premiere cast: revised version, 26 March 1827



Darkness envelopes Egypt. It has been brought about by God in order to punish the Pharaoh and his people because he has failed to allow the Hebrews to leave the country for the Promised Land across the Red Sea. Moses is brought in and the Pharaoh declares that, when the sun shines again, he will release the captives. Cautioned by his brother Aaron not to believe the Egyptian leader, nevertheless Moses pleads to God and light returns.

However, because the Pharaoh's son Osiride is in love with the Hebrew girl Elcia and does not want to see her leave with her people, he persuades the High Priest, Mambre, to help him. The Priest does not believe in Moses' powers and he agrees to find a way to prevent the exodus by encouraging the Egyptians to revolt against allowing the Hebrews to depart. The Pharaoh then withdraws his promise and warns Moses that any Hebrew who tries to escape will be killed. Amaltea, Pharaoh's wife, has secretly converted and she tries to intervene, but to no avail. Moses then threatens further punishment and is set upon by Osiride's soldiers, intent upon killing him, but Pharaoh arrives in time to prevent it. Moses then prays for fire to rain down upon the country.

Mosé in Egitto 1/3


Pharaoh orders the Hebrews to leave at once, so as to avoid the curse placed on his people. Then, telling his son that he has negotiated a treaty whereby Osiride will be married to the Princess of Armenia, he does not understand why his son hears his announcement with little enthusiasm.

Shortly afterwards, Moses learns that Osiris has kidnapped Elcia, but Aaron knows where they are hiding. Amaltea is warned and accompanies him to find the lovers.

Together in the cave, Osiris tells Elcia of his father's plans for him and he suggests that they can live together in hiding in the countryside. The Queen with her guards and Aaron interrupt the two lovers, but they refuse to separate and Osiris declares that it intends to give up the throne.

Meanwhile, the Pharaoh once again reverses himself and states that he will not allow the captives to leave, fearing that the Hebrews will support Egypt's enemies. Outraged, Moses declares that the Crown Prince and all the firstborn males of the country will be hit by a divine lightning strike. Pharaoh orders Moses to be put in chains, and, to protect his son from the prophecy, declares Osiris to be his co-ruler and that he will be the one to proclaim the death sentence on Moses. Elcia then comes forward revealing her relationship with Osiris and begging him to free Moses and his people. She tries to persuade him to accept his destiny and marry the royal princess of Armenia. But Osiris remains adamant and immediately orders that Moses be killed. As he does so, he falls dead from being struck by a bolt of lightning.

Mosé in Egitto 2/3


On the shores of the Red Sea

Having crossed the desert, the Hebrews arrive on the shores of the Red Sea, but find themselves unable to continue their journey to the Promised Land. Leading his people and telling them to wait for God's action, Moses prays. As the advancing Egyptians appear, the Hebrews are panicking, but Moses touches the waters with his staff and the Red Sea opens to provide a pathway to the opposite shore. Following closely behind, the Egyptians, led by Mambre and Pharaoh, enter the gap in the waters but they are swamped by the waves which close over them.

Mosé in Egitto 3/3

Moses. Statue by Michelangelo Buonarotti


Moses was a prophet in the Abrahamic religions, according to their holy books. However, scholarly consensus sees Moses as a legendary figure and not a historical person.

According to the Hebrew Bible, he was adopted by an Egyptian princess, and later in life became the leader of the Israelites and lawgiver, to whom the authorship of the Torah, or acquisition of the Torah from Heaven is traditionally attributed. Also called Moshe Rabbenu in Hebrew (מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ, lit. "Moses our Teacher"), he is the most important prophet in Judaism. He is also an important prophet in Christianity, Islam, the Bahá'í Faith, and a number of other Abrahamic religions.

According to the Book of Exodus, Moses was born in a time when his people, the Israelites, an enslaved minority, were increasing in numbers and the Egyptian Pharaoh was worried that they might ally themselves with Egypt's enemies. Moses' Hebrew mother, Jochebed, secretly hid him when the Pharaoh ordered all newborn Hebrew boys to be killed in order to reduce the population of the Israelites. Through the Pharaoh's daughter (identified as Queen Bithia in the Midrash), the child was adopted as a foundling from the Nile river and grew up with the Egyptian royal family. After killing an Egyptian slavemaster (because the slavemaster was smiting a Hebrew), Moses fled across the Red Sea to Midian, where he encountered The Angel of the Lord, speaking to him from within a burning bush on Mount Horeb (which he regarded as the Mountain of God).

God sent Moses back to Egypt to demand the release of the Israelites from slavery. Moses said that he could not speak eloquently, so God allowed Aaron, his brother, to become his spokesperson. After the Ten Plagues, Moses led the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, after which they based themselves at Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, Moses died within sight of the Promised Land on Mount Nebo.


Aaron is a prophet, high priest, and the brother of Moses in the Abrahamic religions (elder brother in the case of Judaism).

Knowledge of Aaron, along with his brother Moses, comes exclusively from religious texts, such as the Bible and Qur’an. The Hebrew Bible relates that, unlike Moses, who grew up in the Egyptian royal court, Aaron and his elder sister Miriam remained with their kinsmen in the eastern border-land of Egypt (Goshen).

When Moses first confronted the Egyptian king about the Israelites, Aaron served as his brother's spokesman ("prophet") to the Pharaoh. Part of the Law (Torah) that Moses received from God at Sinai granted Aaron the priesthood for himself and his male descendants, and he became the first High Priest of the Israelites. Aaron died before the Israelites crossed the North Jordan river and he was buried on Mount Hor.

Miriam (מִרְיָם‬) is described in the Hebrew Bible as the daughter of Amram and Yocheved, and the sister of Moses and Aaron. She was a prophet and first appears in the Book of Exodus.


Miriam the prophetess

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