Hasse's three-act dramma per musica Siroe re di Persia premiered at the Teatro Malvezzi in Bologna on May 2, 1733. It sets a text by the great opera seria librettist Pietro Metastasio, who derived many of his plots from classical histories of ancient Greece and Rome. His poetics defined the nature of serious opera in the eighteenth century, and most composers faithfully followed the conventions which arose around the settings of his texts. In the original production, Carlo Broschi, also known as Farinelli, sang the title role. He was one of the most brilliant soprano castrati of the era, and many lead roles were written expressly for him. Hasse made a second setting of this libretto after he moved to Dresden and became music director there. The second version is more adventuresome, and displays a more mature command of musical form, especially in the arias, which are now in an extended da capo form in which the themes are fully developed. The accompaniments are more complex, and the orchestral and vocal writing is integrated well with the dramatic content. The Dresden premiere took place at the Hoftheater in 1763.
Description by Rita Laurance