(‘Hadrian in Syria’)
Libretto by Pietro Metastasio, first set by Antonio Caldara (1732, Vienna). The title Farnaspe was used for a later version of this libretto
In Antioch, the Emperor Hadrian has conquered the Parthian king Osroa [Osroes] and, in spite of being betrothed to Sabina, a Roman noblewoman, has fallen in love with Emirena, Osroes’ daughter. He has invited several Asian princes to Antioch, but his invitation to Osroes is refused. Osroes, however, has come in disguise, as a follower of Farnaspe [Pharnaspes], the Parthian prince to whom Emirena is betrothed.
Hadrian consents to Emirena’s departure with Pharnaspes if she so chooses. But Aquilio [Aquilius], Hadrian’s confidant, because he himself loves Sabina, desires a marriage between Emirena and Hadrian; he warns Emirena of Hadrian’s supposed anger, cautioning her to conceal her true feelings for Pharnaspes, who is astounded by Emirena’s subsequent coldness. Hadrian’s hopes for Emirena are thus revived, and he is confused when Sabina arrives unexpectedly. Meanwhile, Osroes sets fire to the palace, and Pharnaspes is blamed. He and Emirena reaffirm their love....