Temistocle (J.C. Bach)

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Temistocle (Themistocles) is an opera seria in three acts by the German composer Johann Christian Bach. The Italian text is an extensive revision of the libretto by Metastasio first set by Antonio Caldara in 1736, by Mattia Verazi, court poet and private secretary to the Elector Palatine Carl Theodor. The opera was the first of two which J.C. Bach set for the Elector Palatine. Some of the music was reused from earlier works, including part of the overture from Carattaco (composed in London in 1767).

Performance history[edit]

Temistocle was first performed at the Hoftheater in Mannheim on 4 November 1772,[1] with a notable cast including Anton Raaff and Dorothea and Elisabeth Wendling, all singers that later worked with Mozart.


Role Voice type Premiere cast, 4 November 1772
(Conductor: - )
Temistocle (Themistocles), Athenian general and politician tenor Anton Raaff
Aspasia, daughter of Temistocle, in love with Lisimaco soprano Dorothea Wendling
Rossana (Roxana), a princess, in love with Serse soprano Elisabeth Wendling
Lisimaco (Lysimachus), Athenian ambassador and friend of Temistocle soprano castrato Silvio Giorgetti
Serse, King of Persia (Xerxes I of Persia) bass Giovanni Battista Zonca
Neocle (Neocles), son of Temistocle soprano castrato Francesco Roncaglia
Sebaste (Sebastes), confidant of Serse, later a conspirator against him alto castrato Vincenzo Mucciolo


The opera takes place in Persia. Temistocle, together with his son Neocle, has been expelled from Athens. He arrives incognito at Susa, the capital of his arch-enemy King Serse, to find that his daughter Aspasia (in love with the Athenian ambassador Lisimaco) has also made her way there, following a shipwreck. Eventually all is revealed and Serse magnanimously pardons everybody, unites the lovers and makes peace with Athens.


There are no complete recordings of the opera, generally available, though the overture is available on CD, for example on Johann Christian Bach: Complete Opera Overtures, performed by the Hanover Band conducted by Anthony Halstead (CPO Records 9999632, 2003). WorldCat records a CD made of the opera Temistocle available at http://www.worldcat.org/title/j-c-bach-temistocle/oclc/604044585. A complete recording may be found on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYz4pRz9FC0


  1. ^ Grove gives the date as 5 November while Amadeus has 4 November.