Semele

Cast

Lauren Snouffer
Semele

Creative

Tomer Zvulun
Production Director

Erhard Rom
Scenic & Projection Designer

Vita Tzykun
Costume Designer

Robert Wierzel
Lighting Designer

Banner_Semele_2425

Semele 
Composer: George Frideric Handel
Librettist: William Congreve (adapted by anonymous)
Premiere Performance: Feb 10, 1744—Royal Opera House, London, England

Sex and death. While most opera plots distill these themes, Semele is entirely about these themes. Princess Semele burns with passion for her seducer, Jupiter, king of the gods, but is ultimately brought down by his wife Juno. With the exquisite music of a genius, Semele is a love triangle soaked in sensuality, ambition, and jealousy that features many of G.F. Handel’s most beautiful arias and choruses. A company premiere of a gloriously moving masterpiece of the Baroque era.  

Performed in English with English Supertitles

Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre

Performance runtime: approximately 3 hours, 38 minutes
Act I:
41 minutes  |  Intermission: 25 minutes  |  Act II: 46 minutes  |  Intermission: 25 minutes  |  Act IV: 66 minutes

Banner_Semele_2425

Semele 
Composer: George Frideric Handel
Librettist: William Congreve (adapted by anonymous)
Premiere Performance: Feb 10, 1744—Royal Opera House, London, England

Sex and death. While most opera plots distill these themes, Semele is entirely about these themes. Princess Semele burns with passion for her seducer, Jupiter, king of the gods, but is ultimately brought down by his wife Juno. With the exquisite music of a genius, Semele is a love triangle soaked in sensuality, ambition, and jealousy that features many of G.F. Handel’s most beautiful arias and choruses. A company premiere of a gloriously moving masterpiece of the Baroque era.  

Performed in English with English Supertitles

Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre

Cast

Lauren Snouffer
Semele

Creative

Tomer Zvulun
Production Director

Erhard Rom
Scenic & Projection Designer

Vita Tzykun
Costume Designer

Robert Wierzel
Lighting Designer

Synopsis

PART ONE

Cadmus and his devout followers have created a temple to Juno, the queen of the gods, in order to bless the arranged marriage of his daughter Semele to Athamus. A sacred fire develops on the altar and the chorus proclaims that the omens for the marriage appear favorable. Semele arrives for the ceremony after many attempts to delay the marriage due her new love of Jupiter, the king of the gods. She pleads to Jupiter to intervene and his responding thunder interrupts the ceremony. The symbolic flames on the altar of Juno are extinguished as Cadmus prays for their return. Sensing a war between the immortal spouses, the chorus flees from the temple, but Athamus and Semele’s sister Ino remain.

Ino and Athamus each reveal surprising truths. Both are startled when Cadmus interrupts with the shocking news that Jupiter has abducted Semele. The trio languishes while Semele transcends to the realm of the gods.

Juno, angered at her husband’s adultery, has ordered her messenger Iris to discover where Semele has been taken. Iris reports that Jupiter has built his new mortal lover an elaborate palace guarded by fierce dragons that never sleep. The enraged Juno swears vengeance, and hurries to visit Somnus, the god of sleep, to demand his aid.
Semele wakes and immediately calls out for Jupiter. He arrives in human form, reassures her of his fidelity, and reminds her of her fragile mortality. Semele professes devotion to him, but reveals her discontent that she has not yet been made immortal. Sensing Semele’s dangerous ambition, Jupiter promises to summon her sister Ino from the earth to keep her company. As a gift, Jupiter transforms the palace into a beautiful garden to comfort and distract her…

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PART TWO

Ino, enraptured, describes the extraordinary journey to the immortal realm. The sisters are joyfully reunited, but Semele is once again distracted by the pursuit of pleasure, immortality and love.

Somnus is disturbed from his deep sleep by the arrival of Juno and Iris. He wakes but refuses to help Juno. She barters, offering his favorite nymph in return for his aid and he relents. Juno orders Somnus to give Jupiter an erotic dream that will make him desperate for Semele. Juno then receives Somnus’ potent power in order to lull any being to sleep on command. She uses this new power to manipulate Ino, whom Juno puppets in order to convince Semele that she has been made as beautiful as a god.

Trusting her sister, Semele sees her glorified reflection and becomes narcissistically obsessed. Juno, still disguised as Ino, advises that if Semele wishes to become truly immortal, she must refuse Jupiter until he promises to grant any wish she desires. The disguised Juno suggests that Semele demand Jupiter to appear to her only in his true form. Semele eagerly accepts this advice. Juno departs when she senses the approach of her husband.

Jupiter is alarmed when Semele rejects him. He rashly swears an irrevocable vow to grant her whatever she desires, and she demands that he visit her in his true form. He reacts with horror, knowing that his non-human form will instantly kill her. Semele refuses to listen, assuming that Jupiter’s protestations are only to resist granting her immortality. Left alone, Jupiter tries to find a way to save Semele’s life, but is forced to accept his loss. Juno, victorious, re-joins her husband.

Semele sees Jupiter approach as a fiery cloud of lightning and thunder, laments her folly, and is consumed by flames.

Ino, safely returned to earth, announces the tragic news that Semele has perished. Athamus offers Ino unexpected comfort. Jupiter descends with the pleased Juno and announces a decree from Apollo that from Semele’s ashes the unborn child of Semele and Jupiter has risen. Named Bacchus, God of Wine, he will bring a reckless delight to all the earth…

courtesy Opera America / James Darrah

Characters & Cast

Semele

Lauren Snouffer

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A First Timer’s Guide

The Opera Experience

Operas on our mainstage are grand theatrical experiences. You can always expect the unexpected, and for our productions to be presented at the highest quality.

Supertitles

Many operas are in a foreign language. Supertitles are similar to subtitles in a film, except they are projected above the stage. These translations will help you follow what’s happening on stage.

What to Wear

There is no dress code at The Opera and you will see everything from jeans to evening gowns and formal suits. Most people use it as a chance to enjoy dressing up in their own style.

Arriving in Good Time

If you are late, you will be escorted to the nearest late seating area. At intermission ushers will show you to your seat. Plan ahead to arrive with extra time.

Directions & Parking at Cobb Energy Center

Enhance Your Visit

Pre-Performance Talk

Learn about the history of the opera, the composer, and more from artists and opera aficionados. One hour prior to curtain. Free with your ticket!

Learn More

Familiarizing Yourself with the Story

Because of the foreign languages, classical music, and often complex plots, you will very likely enjoy the performance better if you spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the story and characters in advance. Some people even like to listen to the music in advance and others prefer to let it wash over them during the show and perhaps look it up afterwards.

Visit our Study Guides Library

How is an Opera Staged?

Auditions

Actors first audition for roles up to a year in advance, or for more experienced artists, directors also invite them to play a role.

Rehearsals

Most of the rehearsals are held in our rehearsal hall, and not the actual theatre. The conductor begins orchestra rehearsals about a week and half before opening night. They have four rehearsals with the conductor, and then the singers are added into the mix.

Sets & Costumes

The Atlanta Opera Costume Shop alters the costumes to fit our singers. Sometimes they do have to make costumes if there aren’t enough, or if there is nothing that fits, etc. Once the sets are in place, the cast begins rehearsing at the theatre. The Opera production staff works with staff at the theatre to get all of the lighting and technical aspects of the production together.

Sitzprobe & Dress Rehearsal

The orchestra comes together with the singers in a special rehearsal called sitzprobe. There are no costumes during the sitzprobe, this is mainly to hear the voices with the orchestra. There is a piano dress rehearsal, when the singers rehearse in full costume for the first time so they can get used to wearing them. Finally, all of the pieces are put together for two full dress rehearsals leading up to opening night.

Composer

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

George Frideric Handel was a German-born English composer of the late Baroque era, noted particularly for his operas, oratorios, and instrumental compositions. He wrote the most famous of all oratorios, Messiah (1741), and is also known for such occasional pieces as Water Music (1717) and Music for the Royal Fireworks (1749).

Courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica

george frideric handel

Production Director

Tomer Zvulun

General and Artistic Director of The Atlanta Opera since 2013, Israeli born Tomer Zvulun is also one of opera’s most exciting stage directors, earning consistent praise for his creative vision, often described as cinematic and fresh.  His work has been presented by prestigious opera houses around the world, including The Metropolitan Opera, the opera companies of Israel, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Montreal, Wexford, Glimmerglass, Houston, Washington National Opera, Seattle, Dallas, Detroit, San Diego, Minnesota, Boston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Wolf Trap, as well as leading educational institutes and universities such as The Juilliard School, Indiana University, Boston University, and IVAI in Tel Aviv.   

Since taking the leadership in Atlanta a decade ago, he personally directed thirty of the company’s productions. He increased the operations of the company from three to six productions per season, while stabilizing the financials and in the course of his first decade tenure, secured Atlanta’s position as one of the top 10 opera companies in the US. Some of his noted achievements includes launching the successful Discoveries series, creating the first young artist program in the company’s history, tripling the company’s annual fund raising, launching the company’s first RING cycle, creating The Atlanta Opera Film Studio, and building a theatre in a circus tent where performances were conducted safely during the pandemic. 

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His work at The Atlanta Opera attracted international attention by earning numerous awards and prizes including the nomination of The Atlanta Opera for the International Opera Awards in London and the selection of his production of Silent Night as both the Irish Times and Atlanta Journal-Constitution production of the year. His focus on innovation led to an invitation to deliver a TED talk as well as a case study that is being taught at Harvard Business School. His productions travel the world and bring wide exposure to the company. Next season his productions of  Rigoletto travel to Los Angeles Opera, his La bohème returns to The Dallas Opera, and his acclaimed production of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs will make its Kennedy Center debut at the Washington National Opera.  

Headshot_Tomer2022