Monday 20 February at 20:30


Anna Bonitatibus, mezzo-soprano
Marco Marzocchi, piano
six musicians from Al Bustan Festival Orchestra

A concert dedicated to the legendary Semiramis, wife of the Biblical Nimrod, Queen of the Assyrian Empire (reigned 811-806 BCE). The majority of the pieces in the program were unknown in modern times before being unearthed by Anna Bonitatibus, a few years ago. About this concert at Wigmore Hall: “Altogether an exhilarating evening of rarities and novelty, sung with full blooded rigor” Bachtrack.

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Antonio Caldara (1670 – 28 1736)
Semiramide In Ascalona
– Introduzione
– Aria Povera navicella

George Händel (1685 – 1759)
Pasticcio da Semiramide Riconosciuta di Leonardo Vinci
– Aria Fuggi dagl’occhi miei

Niccolò Jommelli (1714 –1774)
Semiramide Riconosciuta
– Recitativo e Aria Barbaro, non dolerti…Tradita, sprezzata

Christoph Gluck (1714 –1787)
– Ballet Suite per Orchestra

Semiramide Riconosciuta
– Aria Fuggi dagl’occhi miei

Ferdinando Bertoni (1725 – 1813)
Semiramide Riconosciuta
– Aria Non so se più t’accendi


Francesco Bianchi (1752 – 1810)
La Vendetta di Nino
– Sinfonia

Giovanni Paisiello (1740 – 1816)
La Semiramide in Villa
– Aria Serbo in seno il cor piagato

Sebastiano Nasolini (1768 – 1798)
La Mort de Semeramide
– Recitativo e Aria Deh sospendi a’ pianti miei…Serbo ancora un’alma altera

Charles- Simon Catel (1773 – 1830)
– Dance no.1*
– Dance no. 2

Gioachino Rossini (1792 –1868)
– Cavatina Bel raggio lusinghier (prima versione)

Manuel Garcia (1775 – 1832)
– Recitativo e Aria Già il perfido discese…Al mio pregar t’arrendi

Anna Bonitatibus, soprano
Winner of The International Opera Awards 2015, for the project Semiramide – La Signora regale, the consecrated first Queen of Mesopotamia who’s seductive story inspired the music, Anna Bonitatibus devotes her attention and her studies to the research and re-evaluation of a rare and exquisite repertoire. She includes in her performed titles over fifty operas, from L’Incoronazione di Poppea, Orfeo, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria by Claudio Monteverdi and La Didone, Ercole amante and La Calisto by Francesco Cavalli, crossing Händel’s “teatro musicale” (Agrippina, Deidamia, Giulio Cesare, Orlando, Tamerlano, Tolomeo, Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno) and composers from the Neapolitan school, from Pergolesi to Cimarosa, until her beloved Gioachino Rossini: La Cenerentola, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, L’Italiana in Algeri, Le Comte Ory, Il Viaggio à Reims and Tancredi, debuted during the current season. Cantates, Messes and the Péchés de Vieillesse by Rossini have, furthermore, in Anna Bonitatibus a distinctive interpreter on the most remarkable international scenes. As the embodiment of Cherubino from Le Nozze di Figaro, she has become one of the most acclaimed performers of Mozart. Then follows Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, Mitridate Re di Ponto, La Clemenza di Tito, as well as sacred and profane repertoire by the Salzburgian composer. The Messa di Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi and Ginevra di Scozia by Simon Mayr appear among the recent debuts of the Italian Mezzosoprano who dedicates a special affinity for the French repertoire with Werther by Massenet, L’Enfant et les sortilèges by Ravel, Roméo et Juliette by Berlioz and Gounod as well as Les contes d’Hoffmann by Offenbach. From the Royal Opera House in London to the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, passing through the Teatro alla Scala, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, the Teatro Real in Madrid, La Monnaie in Bruxelles, the Staatsoper in Vienna, and to the most renowned international concert halls (from Russia to the United States), Anna Bonitatibus has collaborated with the most acclaimed conductors and directors: Sir Charles Mackerras, Riccardo Muti, Sir Antonio Pappano, René Jacobs, William Christie, Ivor Bolton, Myung Whun Chung and Luca Ronconi, Jerome Savary, Pier Luigi Pizzi, Dario Fo, David Alden, Sir Jonathan Miller, and Kasper Holten. Among the recent recordings in CD as well as DVD: L’Infedeltà costante dedicated to Haydn; Un Rendezvous : Ariette e Canzoni, a portrait of Gioachino Rossini’s chamber music repertoire; Semiramide – La Signora regale, a musical itinerary from Nicola Porpora to Manuel Garcia; La Tempesta: Cantate by the composer Marianna Martines, released for DHM/RCA/SONY; La Didone and Ercole amante by Cavalli (OpusArte) and Così fan tutte by Mozart (Arthaus). In streaming, Anna Bonitatibus recently appeared live on stage from Teatro La Monnaie in Bruxelles in a new production of La Clemenza di Tito directed by Ivo van Hove and L’Italiana in Algeri from Wiener Staatsoper in Vienna, in April 2015.

Marco Marzocchi, piano
An eclectic, versatile artist, Marco Marzocchi was born in Rome and since he was very young he has pursued intense concert activity favorably greeted by audiences and critics. He brilliantly graduated in piano at the “L. Refice” Conservatoire in Frosinone and furthered his studies with distinguished teachers (among them: Michele Marvulli, Arnaldo Cohen, Konstantin Bogino, Tamás Vásáry); His artistic curiosity incentivized him to graduate with honors in harpsichord at the St. Cecilia Conservatoire in Rome. As the winner in 1987 of a special award for contemporary music at the Béla Bartók Competition in Rome, he also attended the Zene Akademia in Budapest.

His career as a soloist ranges from Couperin, Bach, Rameau and Mozart right through the Nineteenth Century to Skriabin, Ravel, Prokofiev and contemporary composers. He performs in prestigious concert seasons as well as national and international festivals (including the Festival di Nuova Consonanza, the Associazione Romana’s Piano Festival and the “Associazione Musicale Euterpe” series in Rome, the “Instituto Musica e Teatro” at the University of Bologna; the Liszt Museum in Budapest; the International Frederic Chopin Society in Warsaw; the Théatre Chateaubriand in Saint-Malo; the Italian Institute of Culture in Budapest, Szèged, Pècs and Marseilles; the Manuel de Falla Hall in the Real Conservatorio Maria Cristina in Malaga etc.)
Meeting Cristina Biagini gave rise to the formation of a piano duo which has performed in important national and international concert engagements (including Accademia Filarmonica Romana, the International A. Benedetti Michelangeli Festival of Bergamo and Brescia, I Concerti del Quirinale, the Chicago Piano Duo Festival, the National Chiang Kai-Shek Cultural Centre in Taipei, Taiwan, the Italian Cultural Institutes in Moscow, Barcelona, Marseilles and Nairobiand the Summer Arts Festival in Malta).

The Duo collaborates regularly with the “Ars Ludi” percussion ensemble with which they tackle the most important modern and contemporary composers. In this capacity they gave the first performance in Malta (2006) of Bartok’s Sonata for two pianos and percussion, a performance of Saint-Saens Carnival of Animals and Bruno Maderna’s Concerto for two pianos and instruments (Rome 2007), their recording the second CD of the complete works of Giacinto Scelsi including several first ever performances such as Rotativa for two pianos and percussion ensemble (Stradivarius 2008) and Orff’s Carmina Burana at the Sala Sinopoli in “Parco della Musica” (Rome 2012). Contemporarily Marco Marzocchi gives concerts in various chamber music formations.

Not only an interpreter, Marco Marzocchi is widely appreciated as a valid teacher and he holds seminars and master classes at various international music institutions (in Spain, Hungary, Taiwan, Mongolia, Campus Internazionale delle Arti di Sangemini, U.S.A.). He is a professor of piano at the “O. Respighi” Conservatoire in Latina.

His collaboration with the mezzosoprano Anna Bonitatibus deserves special mention for their recording of a CD of “Ariette and Canzoni” entirely dedicated to Rossini (Un Rendez-vous, SONY-RCA Red Seal 2010). The program, highly acclaimed by critics and audiences internationally, has been performed and will continue being performed in concert in Europe. It has created in Marco Marzocchi an authentic passion for the piano pages of the “Cigno di Pesaro”: following this line he records Rossini Mon petit caprice for the German label and national and foreign magazines has positively reviewed it. Musica magazine has been the last one that has assigned him 5 stars stressing his interpretation as one of the most interesting of last years.

Noteworthy performances: recital in the guise of a soloist that accompanied Anna Bonitatibus in Rome (IUC – Istituzione Universitaria dei Concerti), Napoli (Teatro di San Carlo), and Bilbao (Teatro Arriaga), and participation in the presentation of the International Concert Season “Incontri in terra di Siena 2013” which saw him feature in a Rossini recital and broadcast on Music EuroNews in 160 countries.

The Al Bustan Festival Orchestra
For the biography of The Al Bustan Festival Orchestra, please refer to the concert of Wednesday, February 15


Any effort to trace the origins of the myth, legend, and lore of goddess-worship will eventually lead one back to a single historical figure—Semiramis, wife of Nimrod and queen of Babylon, and this is especially true when considering the goddess/planet Venus.
When Noah and his family left the ark after the flood, they settled first at the northern feet of Ararat facing what is today Georgia. From here, these eight souls began to spread out into the surrounding districts of northern Iran and Syria, as well as eastern Turkey. After a considerable period (perhaps 5 to 6 hundred years), the families of Noah’s descendants began to scatter a bit more widely due to increasing population, and perhaps some degree of rivalry or even enmity between the families of Japheth, Shem, and Ham. In this way we find that within about half a millennium the entire “fertile crescent”, as well as the Nile valley, the Anatolian and Iranian plateaus, Arabia, and Ethiopia have been sparsely settled—but with a decided majority of Noah’s descendants living in the lower regions of Mesopotamia (which would come to be called Sumer and Akkad).
In the midst of the tumult of war Nimrod and Semiramis met–and in none too savory circumstances, for tradition states that she was an inn/brothel keeper in the city of Erech—leading one to speculate upon the nature of their initial acquaintance. Semiramis was a native of Erech, which as evidenced by its name seems to have been built by a Hamitic family (Ham’s wife was said to have been descended from Cain who built the first Erech in honor of his son). The name Semiramis is a later, hellenized form of the Sumerian name “Sammur-amat”, or “gift of the sea.”
Although this esotericism was the second element in Semiramis’ cult, it only masked the actual goal which was the worship of the “heavenly host,” which the Bible equates with Satan’s army of fallen angels. Satan was quite willing to receive worship “by proxy”, hence the third major element of the mystery religion was emperor-worship. This religion was propagated by a hierarchy of priests and priestesses, to whom were assigned the task of initiating the populace at large into it’s ascending degrees of revelation, culminating at the highest level in both direct worship of Satan and demon-possession.