Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera by Philip Gossett
Reviewed by G.W. Bowersock
The New Republic Online
"At the end of Voltaire's tragedy about the Babylonian queen Semiramis, her son Arsace kills his own mother. The great bel canto composer Rossini later took over the story for a tragic opera, and his work also ended with the same fearful matricide. But when La Scala in Milan mounted a new production of Rossini's Semiramide in December 1962, the conductor Richard Bonynge coolly changed the plot to make Arsace kill the villain Assur instead, leaving his mother standing on her own solid feet at the end — ready for the applause." Read the entire The New Republic Online review.