Udo Talmon/Wildbad Festival
The Siege of Corinth.
Jean-Luc Tingaud leads the Camerata Bach Chorus and the Virtuosi Brunensis Orchestra in a concert performance of Rossini's
Pamyra .............. Majella Cullagh
Mahomet ..........Lorenzo Ragazzo
Cléomène ................. Marc Sala
Néoclès ............. Michael Spyres
Hiéros ............. Matthieu Lécroart
Camerata Bach Chorus
Virtuosi Brunensis Orchestra
Jean-Luc Tingaud, conductor
Rossini's opera has three acts, all set in the Greek city of Corinth. In ACT ONE, the city's governor, Cléomène, tells the people that the enemy leader Mahomet has refused to lift the Turkish siege, and the situation is now hopeless. Still, Cléomène needs to maintain the loyalty of his men, and he reminds his daughter, Pamyra, that she has been promised to the young officer Néoclès.
But Pamyra has other ideas. She tells her father that she's in love with someone else — a man she met in Athens. They begin to argue, but news soon comes that the Turks are launching another attack. Cléomène goes off to fight, and the Turks soon overrun the city.
As Mahomet and his troops are celebrating in the city square, Cléomène is led before the Turkish leader. A band of Greek soldiers is still resisting, holed up in a fortress, and Cléomène has refused to order their surrender. Pamyra then enters the square and immediately recognizes Mahomet. He's the man she fell for in Athens, who was then calling himself Almanzor.
When Mahomet realizes who Pamyra is, his resolve softens. He's still in love with her. Mahomet says that if Pamyra marries him, he'll agree to negotiate peace with the Greeks. Cléomène responds angrily, and reminds Pamyra about her arranged marriage to Néoclès. But she defies him, and Cléomène curses her as the act ends.
In ACT TWO, Pamyra is uncertain what to do next. She's still in love with Mahomet but also feels a deep loyalty to her father, and to her country. Mahomet tells her that once they're married, she'll find peace. But as the wedding procession begins, it's interrupted by Néoclès. He appeals to Pamyra, saying the other women of Corinth are defying the Turks, while she's preparing to marry their conqueror.
Mahomet has never met this newcomer, and demands to know who he is. To protect Néoclès, Pamyra claims that he's her brother. Mahomet orders the wedding ceremony to proceed, but things are interrupted again when fighting is heard outside. Cléomène has re-gathered the Corinthian army, and has attacked Mahomet's forces. When Pamyra hears her father calling to her, she breaks down, and then renounces Mahomet, saying she no longer loves him. Mahomet is furious, but he allows Pamyra and Néoclès to leave, saying he'll take his revenge by destroying Corinth and killing all its citizens.
As ACT THREE begins, in the catacombs of Corinth, Cléomène and Néoclès prepare to fight the Turks, in what will likely be their last battle. Pamyra and the other women are heard praying.
Mahomet then appears, with his armed escort. He again demands to marry Pamyra, offering a peaceful settlement in return. Cléomène says he would rather see his daughter dead. Mahomet storms out, vowing to continue the siege until the city has been leveled.
Pamyra, Cléomène, and Néoclès pray together. Hiéros, the guardian of the graves, reminds everyone of Greek history, and its many glorious victories. Inspired, the men leave to join the battle.
The women continue to pray, but before long the Turks are heard celebrating their victory. Mahomet rushes in triumphantly, thinking that Pamyra will now be his. But when she sees him, she stabs herself. The building then crumbles around them, revealing the entire city in flames.