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January 1970

Opera in three acts (1738)
Music by Johann Adolf Hasse
Libretto by Stefano Benedetto Pallavicino
Opera in concert in Italian


Empress Irene rules Byzantium for her not yet mature son Isaccio. This dignity is hard on her, because she is secretly in love with Niceforo, the much younger son of her confidant Oreste. Her passion becomes so great that she, disregarding all imperial countenance, finds out with the help of Niceforo's sister Eudossa that Niceforo is also in love with her. Full of luck she plans to make him her husband against every convention. Eudossa feels a fierce, quite unsexual jealousy. She is again courted unsuccessfully by Isaccio. In order to be able to make her his bride against her will, Isaccio finally wants to take over the autocracy from his mother Irene. Together with Oreste he incites a revolt against the empress and imprisons her. But she is immediately freed by Niceforo. Irene has already announced her engagement to her saviour, when Oreste reveals that he had once exchanged his own son for that of the imperial couple, eaten away by ambition, so Niceforo is Irene's son and Isaccio his. After a short shock, the feelings are rearranged: Irene renounces power and transforms from a woman in love into a loving mother, her real son becomes emperor and marries Eudossa, the false heir to the throne goes into exile with Oreste. This scandalously piquant opera seria containing potential about unrestrained ambition, child substitution and near incest was premiered on 6 February 1738 at the Dresden Court Theatre on the occasion of the birthday of Tsarina Anna, who, however, was not present - it is no longer possible today to decide whether the play referred to the celebrated woman in honour or satirically. The title role was written by the composer Johann Adolph Hasse for his wife, the star soprano Faustina Bordoni, and the empress, who was plagued by unseemly passions and doubts, created a role full of dazzling facets for her to demonstrate her art. The opera experienced five performances in Dresden, where Hasse was a highly esteemed court composer for over 30 years, before it disappeared into the archives to this day.

Program and cast


Aapo Häkkinen
Vivica Genaux
Max Emanuel Cencic
Dara Savinova
David DQ Lee
Bruno de Sá
Helsinki Baroque Orchestra

Theater an der Wien

About the Theater an der Wien

The New Opera House is not just any theatre, but the one that Emanuel Schikaneder, the all-round genius, actor, impresario with a flair for organization but above all librettist of The Magic Flute, had built in 1801 in Vienna in keeping with the spirit of Mozart.

To coincide with the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth the Theater an der Wien presents itself as a new opera house from January 2006. As a “season” opera house with productions all the year round the Theater an der Wien carves a new and independent niche in the realm of high-quality culture in Vienna. For twelve months of the year, with one premiere every month, opera will be performed under the “stagione”, or season, system: that means the cast remains unchanged from the first performance to the last one, which guarantees that the very highest international standards are maintained.

The theatre’s modern, accessible approach to music theatre as demonstrated by the works performed, the overall artistic concept Bespielung and the artistes is further underlined by the building itself, its architecture and the vibrancy of its location. The surroundings and materials, the intimate atmosphere and perfect acoustics in the historical theatre prepare the senses to experience beauty. The Theater an der Wien deliberately enters into a symbiotic relationship with its lively surroundings on the Naschmarkt street market and the young cultural scene centred in the Schleifmühl quarter.

How to get there

With public transport:

We can be reached by public transport: 

U1, U2 und U4 Station Karlsplatz, Exit Secession
Bus 59A Station Bärenmühldurchgang
Bus 57A Station Laimgrubengasse, pedestrians via Laimgrubengasse to Linke Wienzeile

Fleischmarkt 24, 1010 Wien

We can be reached by public transport:
U1, U4: Station Schwedenplatz
Tram Linie D (bei Ablenukung über Kai), 1, 2: Station Schwedenplatz
Bus 3A (on workdays)

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