The god of gods, Jupiter, kidnaps and seduces the king’s daughter Semele whose ambition, stoked by Jupiter’s jealous wife, Juno, leads to ruin. In the end, love is not the only thing reduced to ashes. Director Barrie Kosky depicts the gods as suffering human beings, bringing them close to the viewers.
Despite the splendid choirs typical of oratorios and the expressive arias which did not have to adhere to the rigid formula of opera seria, Handel’s contemporaries turned their noses up at the saucily erotic and more than a little humorous subject matter, which they deemed to be wholly inappropriate for an oratorio. Yet that all quickly changed. Today, Semele is one of the most popular works penned by Georg Friedrich Handel. Baroque specialist Konrad Junghänel, and artistic director Barrie Kosky discover the female will to power in the Ovidian myth.
Libretto by William Congreve