Donal Henahan in The New York Times:

The evening offered the opportunity not so much for music drama as for a feast of voices, as any work in the bel canto tradition should. And opportunity was seized by a cast that while hardly ideal top to bottom, was capable of splendid bursts. Marilyn Horne, as the Assyrian commander Arsace, for whom Semiramide lusts until he is revealed as her lost son, drew the evening’s longest ovations. This was not, of course, the vocally astounding Horne of a couple of decades ago, but an artist whose tone quality is parched but who still has the technique to deal with Rossini’s florid extravagances.

As Assur, Semiramide’s paramour and co-conspirator, Samuel Ramey was perfect. His ably rich and nimble bass, of all the evening’s voices, met Rossini’s technical demands most consistently. Lella Cuberli, a Texan who has earned a major European reputation in recent years, made her Met debut in the title role. An attractive woman who moves gracefully and with dramatic purpose, she portrayed Assur’s partner in regicide as a feline seductress who might have learned her wiles from Shaw’s Cleopatra. Her agile soprano, while not especially large or velvety, threw off sparks in the coloratura portions of “Bel raggio lusinghier.”

Other newcomers were Chris Merritt, the onetime City Opera tenor who has also made a major European career in the bel canto repertory, and Young Ok Shin, a South Korean soprano. Mr. Merritt’s robust but clumsily used tenor did little to enliven the dramatically inert role of the Indian prince Idreno. His flights into the falsetto range into which Rossini pushes tenors were successful in a squeaky way.

Happy 80th birthday soprano Luana DeVol.

On this day in 1885 Massenet’s Le Cid premiered in Paris.

Birthday anniversaries of composer Carl Loewe (1796) and conductor Walter Weller (1939)