Watch Semele on BBC Arts


We are delighted to continue Garsington Opera's partnership with BBC Arts with this season's Semele featuring as part of the BBC Opera Season.

Recorded with support from Arts Council England for the Garsington Opera for All programme, the production is available to watch online for six months, worldwide, as part of Garsington Opera's Learning & Participation Programme

Whether you are discovering Handel's opera for the first time or you experienced the production during our 2017 Season at Wormsley, we hope you enjoy watching. 


Cadmus prepares for the marriage of his daughter Semele to Athamas but she has been inventing any possible obstacle to the arrangement, as she is in love with the god Jupiter. Semele's sister, Ino, reveals her secret love for Athamas. Cadmus hears that Semele has been mysteriously whisked away to unknown realms. Semele revels in her new-found pleasures. 


Juno, goddess of marriage and children, is furious at her husband Jupiter's infidelity and discovers from her helper, Iris, that Jupiter has built a pleasure palace for Semele. Juno swears vengeance on Semele, and decides to enlist the help of Somnus, god of sleep.

Semele longs for Jupiter's return. He arrives and reassures her of his love, but realises that she has dangerous ambitions of immortality. In order to distract her he uses his godly powers to pacify her, and summons Ino to keep her company.

Juno and Iris manage to rouse Somnus from his slumber. Juno orders Somnus to give Jupiter a dream that will consume him with such a passion for Semele that he will do whatever she asks.

Disguised as Ino, Juno gives Semele a mirror that makes her think she is the most beautiful creature in existence. She convinces Semele that she must refuse to return Jupiter's love until he agrees to give her whatever she wants. She should insist that he comes to her bed not as a mortal but in his full godly glory. Semele agrees.

Jupiter is so desparate for Semele that he agrees to her conditions but is horrifed by her demands as he knows that giving in to them will result in her death.

Juno exults in her victory. Semele realises the folly of what she has done - too late.

Ino is horrified by Semele's fate. Apollo appears to announce that Semele has left a legacy for the world: Bacchus, god of wine.


Semele - Heidi Stober
Cadmus - David Soar
Athamas - Christopher Ainslie
Ino - Jurgita Adamonytė
Priest - Christian Valle

Jupiter - Robert Murray
Juno - Christine Rice
Iris - Llio Evans
Apollo - Mikael Onelius
Somnus - David Soar

Semele's other self - Patricia Loveland
Bacchus - Henry Pauly
A vision of the nymph Pasithea - Lara Marie Müller
Juno's daughters - Bonnie Hodsdon, Mollie Horsley, Lara Murray, Freya Randall, Maddie Small, Ivy Tomkinson, Martha-Scout Willcocks

Harpsichord - Jonathan Cohen
Harpsichord/organ - Ashok Gupta
Cello - Jane Fenton
Bass - Chris West

Garsington Opera Orchestra and Chorus


Conductor - Jonathan Cohen
Director - Annilese Miskimmon
Designer - Nicky Shaw
Lighting designer - Mark Jonathan
Movement director - Sarah Fahie
Assistant conductor - Tom Foster
Assistant director - Ruth Knight
Chorus master - Susanna Stranders

Surtitles - Jonathan Burton
Sound supervisor - Andy Rose
Television facilities - EyeTidy / PLN
Television director - Sonia Lovett