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Mosè in Egitto (known in the French version as Moïse et Pharaon, ou Le passage de la Mer Rouge) (Moses and Pharaoh, or The Passage to the Red Sea) is a three-act opera written by Gioachino Rossini which premiered 5 March 1818 at the recently reconstructed Teatro San Carlomarker, Naples.


It was loosely based on the Exodus from Egypt of the Israelites, led by Moses, rendered agreeable to the opera stage by introducing a love theme, in which the Pharaoh's son Amenophis (tenor) plans to prevent their departure, since he loves the Israelite Anaïs (soprano). The opera opens with a darkened stage, as the plague of darkness is dispelled by Moses' prayer, and it ends with the spectacle of the parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of Pharaoh's host, which produced laughter at the clumsy machinery of its staging at the premiere, though the opera surmounted its technical failings and was a hit.

The libretto, by Andrea Leone Tottola, was based on a play by Francesco Ringhieri, L'Osiride, of 1760. Billed as an azione tragico-sacra, the sacred drama with some features of the oratorio circumvented proscriptions of secular dramatic performances during Lent.

Rossini revised the opera for Naples in 1819, when he introduced Moses' prayer-aria '"Dal tuo stellato soglio", which became one of the most popular opera pieces of the day, inspired a set of variations for violin and piano by Niccolò Paganini, and survives in concert performance.

Parisian audiences had already seen the work, both in a performance by the Paris Opéra at the Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique and at the Théâtre des Italiens before Rossini revised it for the Paris Opéra, now in four acts with a ballet, where it premiered 26 March 1827, with the title Moïse et Pharaon, ou Le Passage de la Mer Rouge, with translations and additions to the libretto by Luigi Balocchi and Victor Joseph Etienne de Jouy, who would co-write the libretto for Rossini's final opera Guillaume Tell.


Naples version/Paris version
Voice type Naples premiere cast,
March 5, 1818
(Conductor: Nicola Festa)

Paris revised version premiere,
March 26, 1827
(Conductor: - )

Mosè/Moïse (Moses) bass Michele Benedetti Nicholas-Prosper Levasseur
Faraone/Pharaon (Pharaoh) bass Raniero Remorini Henri-Bernard Dabadie
Amaltea/Sinaide, his wife soprano Frederike Funck Louise-Zulme Dabadie
Osiride/Aménophis, their son tenor Andrea Nozzari Adolphe Nourrit
Elcia/Anaï, a Hebrew girl soprano Isabella Colbran Laure Cinti-Damoreau
Aronne/Elézer (Aaron) tenor Giuseppe Ciccimarra Alexis Dupont
Amenofi/Marie, Moses' sister mezzo-soprano Maria Manzi Mori
Mambre/Aufide, a priest tenor Gaetano Chizzola Ferdinand Prévôt
(no role)/Osiride, the High Priest bass Bonel
(no role)/A mysterious voice bass Bonel


The score calls for: 2 Flutes/2 Piccolos, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets, 2 Bassoons, 4 Horns, 2 trumpets, 3 Trombones, Serpent, Timpani, Bass Drum, cymbals, Triangle, Banda Turca, Harp, Strings.

Onstage: Band (Piccolo, Quartino, 4 Clarinets, 2 Horns, 4 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, Serpent, Bass Drum)

Selected recordings


Image:Moise1.jpg|Décor for Act I of the 1827 production of Moïse et Pharaon at the Paris OpéraImage:Moise3.jpg|Décor for Act III of the 1827 production of Moïse et Pharaon at the Paris Opéra



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