Zenobia 180x680 © Lorenzo Franzi

Dramma per musica in three acts (1694)

Music by Tomaso Albinoni

Libretto by Antonio Marchi

Concert performance in Italian

Tuesday, 19 October 2021, 7 pm until 9 pm (no intermission)

Content / Background

The capture of Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, and her son Silvio by the Roman emperor Aureliano was only possible because Zenobia’s own governor Ormonte betrayed his homeland. Aureliano falls in love with Zenobia who, however, refuses to surrender to him. As a result he resorts to the terrible weapon of blackmail: If Zenobia does not obey he will kill her son. She nevertheless remains resolute, but breaks down when her son is led away. A little while later the Emperor overhears a conversation between Ormonte and Zenobia: Zenobia should pretend to give herself to Aureliano so that she can then kill him. But Zenobia still cannot be persuaded and flatly rejects this idea. This leads Aureliano to respect her so much that he gives Palmyra back to her and releases her son. Ormonte is banished. Alongside the human protagonists, the virtue of Constantia, steadfastness, plays a central role. It serves as Zenobia’s moral guide because she resists not only Aureliano’s advances even though her son’s life is at stake, but also the chance to take revenge on Aureliano as suggested to her by the treacherous Ormonte. Her unwavering stance pays off because through it she regains her freedom, her realm and her son. Apart from Zenobia, the libretto does not portray the characters with great emotional depth. Tomaso Albinoni first appears as a composer in 1694 when, along with his first opera Zenobia, regina de’ Palmireni, a collection of instrumental works was premiered at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice. It was a huge success for the young composer who, only 23 at the time, was learning the trade of playing-card manufacturer in his father’s business. From then on Albinoni dedicated himself to music, rapidly becoming one of Europe’s foremost composers and producing an extensive œuvre which, however, quickly faded into obscurity. Currently, only seven operas have been conclusively attributed to him, although it is conjectured that he wrote fifty. The first performance of Zenobia in modern times took place in 2008 at the Damascus Opera House, Syria. The historical city of Palmyra stood where the city of Tadmur now stands, roughly 250 kilometres from Damascus.



Marcello Di Lisa

Zenobia, regina di Palmireni

Ana Quintans

Aureliano, imperatore

Valer Barna-Sabadus

Ormonte, guernator di Palmira

Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani

Lidio, principe della Grecia

Maria Grazia Schiavo

Filidea, figlia d’Ormonte

Raffaella Milanesi

Cleonte, suo capitano

Filippo Mineccia


Concerto de’ Cavalieri