03 Feb 2008

ROSSINI: Ermione

Ermione: Azione tragica in two acts.

Music composed by Gioachino Rossini. Libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola after Jean Racine’s Andromaque.

First Performance: 27 March 1819, Teatro San Carlo, Naples

Principal Characters:
Ermione [Hermione], daughter of Menelaus and Hélène, promised to Pyrrhus Soprano
Andromaca [Andromaque], widow of Hector and captive of Pyrrhus Contralto
Astianatte [Astyanax], son of Andromaque Silent
Pirro [Pyrrhus], son of Achille, king of Épire (Ipiros) Tenor
Oreste, son of Agamemnon Tenor
Pilade [Pylade], friend of Oreste Tenor
Fenicio [Phoenix], tutor to Achille and then to Pyrrhus Bass
Cleone [Cléone], confidante of Hermione Mezzo-Soprano
Cefisa [Céphise], confidante of Andromaque Mezzo-Soprano
Attalo [Attalus], servant of Pyrrhus Tenor

Setting: Buthrot, city of Épire (Ipiros), in a room of Pirro’s palace.


After having defeated the Trojans, Pirro returns to his country with numerous prisoners among which there is Andromaca and her child, Astianatte. Pirro breaks his promise to Ermione because of his love for Andromaca. Remaining faithful to the memory of Hector, Andromaca rejects his advances. Oreste, who has been sent to Buthrote by the Greek kings to demand that Pirro fulfill his duty, declares his love to Ermione. Yet Ermione, tormented by jealousy, seeks to regain the heart of Pirro. Ermione rejects Oreste and his demand for the death of Astianatte (so as to avoid inevitable revenge). But, Pirro, in the presence of the court and Ermione, asks Andromaca to marry him. Andromaca falsely consents to the wedding, but in reality she wants only to save her child. Humiliated, Ermione induces Oreste to kill Pirro. When Oreste shows her the bloody dagger, Ermione is horrified and calls the Furies upon him. Oreste, stunned and delirious, is dragged away by his companions to a ship.

Click here for the complete libretto.