Rossini : El Asedio de Corinto (L Assedio di Corinto)New York, Met, 1975 (Audio)
Director: Thomas Schippers
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The opera commemorates the siege and ultimate destruction of the town of Missolonghi in 1826 by Turkish during the ongoing Greek War of Independence (1821–1829).
The reference to Corinth is an example of allegory, although Sultan Mehmed II had indeed besieged the city in the 1450s.
This same incident also inspired a prominent painting by Eugène Delacroix (Greece Expiring on the Ruins of Missolonghi), and was mentioned in the writings of Victor Hugo. Lord Byron's 1816 poem The Siege of Corinth has little, if any, connection with the opera.
The French version of this late Rossini opera was a partial rewrite of the composer's earlier Italian opera entitled Maometto II, but with exactly the same story and characters, in the setting of the Turks' 1470 conquest of the Venetian colony of Negroponte. That original version had premiered in Naples on December 3, 1820—six years before the Missolonghi siege and massacre. The 1820 opera was not well received, neither in Naples nor in Venice where Rossini tried out a somewhat revised version in 1823.
But in 1826, two years after settling in Paris, Rossini tried yet again, with yet another version (including two ballets, as called for by French operatic tradition), transplanted it to Greece with the new title Le siège de Corinthe in a topical nod to the then-raging Greek war for independence from the Ottomans, and translated it into French. This time, Rossini succeeded, and the opera was performed in various countries over the next decade or so.