Demetrio e Polibio

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Demetrio e Polibio (Italian pronunciation: [deˈmɛːtrjo e poˈliːbjo]; Demetrius and Polybius) is a two-act operatic dramma serio by Gioachino Rossini to a libretto by Vincenzina Viganò-Mombelli. The opera was orchestrated for strings only.[1]

Demetrio e Polibio was Rossini's first attempt at a full-scale opera, "assembled piecemeal"[2] during his student days at the Philharmonic Academy of Bologna in 1806. Because it was commissioned by tenor Domenico Mombelli (whose wife wrote the libretto) and was performed privately by Mombelli and his two daughters, a performance which Rossini did not attend, it was not his first fully staged opera.[3]

The opera was not professionally staged until 18 May 1812, when it premiered at Rome's Teatro Valle.[2]


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 18 May 1812[4]
(Conductor: - )
Polybius, King of Parthia bass Lodovico Olivieri
Lisinga, his daughter soprano Maria Ester Mombelli
Siveno, Lisinga's lover contralto Marianna "Anna" Mombelli
Demetrius, King of Syria, Siveno's estranged father tenor Domenico Mombelli


Time: 2nd Century, B.C.
Place: Parthia[5]

Act 1

The good Polybius, King of Parthia, is the protector of both his own daughter Lisinga and her lover Siveno. Everyone believes Siveno to be the son of Minteus, a minister of King Demetrius of Syria, but he is actually the long estranged son of Demetrius. Demetrius, holding Minteus responsible for his son's disappearance, arrives at the court of Parthia in the guise of Eumeno, a royal messenger, and demands that Siveno be turned over to Syria. Polybius refuses. Siveno and Lisinga celebrate their marriage. Polybius confides to Siveno that he is worried about what has happened, but Siveno reassures him. Meanwhile, Eumene (Demetrius) plots to kidnap Siveno and bring him back to Syria. He bribes the servants and guards and at night manages to enter the Parthian court. However, when he arrives in the bed-chamber of the young couple, he finds Lisinga alone and kidnaps her instead. Polybius and Siveno try in vain to stop him.

Act 2

Polybius and Siveno plead for Lisinga's release. In reply, Euemeno (Demetrius) threatens to kill her unless Siveno is turned over to him. In turn, Polybius threatens to kill Siveno unless Lisinga is released. The situation starts to resolve when Eumene (Demetrius), looks at an old medallion and realizes that Siveno is actually his lost son. Meanwhile, Polybius does not want to lose Lisinga, and Eumene (Demetrius) only wants Siveno. Desperate at their impending separation, Lisinga tries to kill Eumene, but he finally reveals his true identity as King Demetrius and announces that Siveno is his son. Peace is restored, and the couple live happily ever after.[6]


Year Cast:
Polibio, Lisinga,
Siveno, Demetrio
Opera House and Orchestra
Label [7]
1992 Giorgio Surjan,
Christine Weidinger,
Sara Mingardo,
Dalmacio González
Massimiliano Carraro,
Graz Symphony Orchestra and Sluk Chamber Choir of Bratislava

(Recording of a performance at the Festival della Valle d'Itria, Martina Franca. 27 July)

Audio CD: Dynamic
Cat: CDS 171/1-2
1996 Pietro Spagnoli,
Maria Costanza Nocentini,
Sonia Ganassi,
Aldo Bertolo
Giuliano Carella,
Orchestra unknown
(Recording of a performance in Dordrecht, 8 September)
Cassette: Lyric Distribution Incorporated
Cat: ALD 4085



  1. ^ Kennedy 2007, p. ??
  2. ^ a b Osborne, Richard 1998, p. 119
  3. ^ Gossett and Brauner 2001, in Holden, p. 766
  4. ^ Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Demetrio e Polibio, 18 May 1812". L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia (in Italian).
  5. ^ Osborne, Charles, 1994, p. 5
  6. ^ This synopsis is translated from Demetrio e Polibio in the Italian Wikipedia
  7. ^ Recordings of Demetrio e Polibio on

Cited sources

  • Gossett, Philip; Brauner, Patricia (2001), "Demetrio e Polibio" in Holden, Amanda (ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-14-029312-4
  • Kennedy, Michael (2007), "Demetrio e Polibio", The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. (By subscription:Oxford Reference Online). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 8 December 2013
  • Osborne, Charles (1994), The Bel Canto Operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini, Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 0-931340-71-3
  • Osborne, Richard (1998), "Demetrio e Polibio", in Stanley Sadie (Ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, Vol. One. London: Macmillan Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-333-73432-7 ISBN 1-56159-228-5

Other sources

  • Osborne, Richard (1990), Rossini, Ithaca, New York: Northeastern University Press. ISBN 1-55553-088-5
  • Osborne, Richard (2008), Demetrio e Polibio, Grove Music Online, Retrieved on 21 March 2008

External links

  • Libretto, Deutsche Rossini Gesellschaft. Accessed 23 March 2008.
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