Zenobia, regina de’ Palmireni (‘Zenobia, Queen of the Palmyrans’)
- Michael Talbot
(‘Zenobia, Queen of the Palmyrans’)
Dramma per musica in three acts by Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni to a libretto by Antonio Marchi; Venice, Teatro SS Giovanni e Paolo, Carnival 1694.
The Palmyran queen Zenobia (soprano) has been defeated by the Roman emperor Aurelian (alto) through the treachery of the governor of Palmyra, Ormonte (tenor), who hopes to wed his daughter Filidea (soprano) to the emperor. Zenobia refuses to submit to her conqueror, even when he falls in love with her and offers marriage. Furious at her resistance, Aurelian resolves to put Zenobia and her son to death, but refrains when he overhears Zenobia refuse Ormonte’s offer to assassinate him. The plot takes a historically inaccurate turn when Aurelian rewards Zenobia by restoring her to the Palmyran throne. Through Filidea’s pleas, Ormonte’s sentence of death is commuted to one of exile, and the opera ends with universal rejoicing.
Zenobia was Albinoni’s first opera. Its recitatives lack assurance, but many of its arias already show the simple tunefulness and idiomatic instrumental writing that are the hallmark of his mature style. The surviving score (in ...