Tuesday was Maometto II day, preceded by another 5.30 dinner at Geronimo, the best of the restaurants at which we ate. This is a rather obscure tragic opera by Rossini, and it had a complicated history. After the premiere in Naples, it was revised, with a happy ending, for the Venetian carnival, and later it was turned into a French opera, Le siège de Corinthe, and again a tragedy. Santa Fe performed the original version with some additional amendments made later by the composer.

Maometto is based on Mehmed II (1432-1481), the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, which he established after capturing Constantinople. The action takes place on the large island of Euboea, then occupied by the Venetians and called Negroponte, off the east coast of Greece. Maometto captured it in 1476 after besieging it.

The plot involves the island's governor, Paolo Erisso, his daughter Anna (who had unknowingly been in love with Maometto when he courted her in Corinth under an assumed name) and his young general, Calbo (a breeches role), who loves Anna. The Turks duly invade and capture Anna, who now rejects Maometto and escapes. Erisso and Calbo meet her in secret, she marries Calbo but also enables him and her father to escape the Turks and continue to fight. Maometto again approaches Anna, but she stabs herself.

Typical opera plot! It was quite long (about 3 hours) and very static, especially in the second half, mostly dominated by Anna. The big numbers in the first act are the lengthy cavatina for Maometto's first appearance (breaking down a wall made of polystyrene to arrive on stage for the first time) and an even lengthier trio for Erisso, Anna and Calbo. The latter has a big aria in the second act. Maometto was Luca Pisarone (seen by me as Leporello at Glyndebourne), Erisso was Bruce Sledge, Calbo was British mezzo Patricia Bardon whom I've seen in numerous roles and Anna was Leah Crocetto who seems to be on the way up. The production was by David Alden and the conductor was Frédéric Chaslin. There was only one set, adjusted a bit here and there - the seat-back libretto told us where each scene was set!

Worth seeing, but there are better serious Rossini operas, IMO.