Major Operas | Octavia by Reinhard Keiser | Early & Middle Baroque

Premiered: 1705, Hamburg
Libretto by Barthold Feind

Act I

King Tiridates of Armenia and his queen, Ormoena, have been captured and brought to Rome, where Nero falls in love with the beautiful Ormoena. Before he can marry her, however, Nero must first rid himself of his own virtuous wife, Octavia.

Act II

Nero orders Octavia to commit suicide, either by poison or with a dagger. Ever obedient, Octavia prepares to stab herself but is stopped at the last minute by the patrician Piso, who is devoted to her. He swears to avenge Nero’s treatment of Octavia and raises a rebellion that forces Nero to flee the city.


Octavia, however, has other plans. Acting on a suggestion by the philosopher Seneca, she dresses as her own ghost and appears before Nero. He is horrified at the thought of what he has done and is stricken with remorse at Octavia’s ‘death’. Meanwhile, the rebels have been defeated. His loyal supporters tell Nero that Octavia is still alive. He is overjoyed at the news and even pardons Piso, since it was his action that saved Octavia’s life. Tiridates is restored to his kingdom, and Ormoena happily returns to her husband.

Personalities | Reinhard Keiser | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera


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