The opera was forward looking in its structure, with tension gradually mounting, via an exciting prison scene ("a fore-shadowing of romanticism") to a considerable climax. Marita P. McClymonds remarks on "The use of tonality, modality, chromaticism and strong dynamic contrasts for expressive purposes, as well as the liberal use of wind instruments ..."
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, 20 January 1781|
(Conductor: Michele Nasci)
|Arbace (Arbaces)||soprano castrato||Luigi Marchesi|
|Semiri, Arbace's wife||soprano||Maria Balducci|
|Scitalce (Sardanapalus), ruler of Assyria||tenor||Antonio Pini|
|Alsinda, Scitalce's sister||soprano||Elisabetta Minghelli|
|Idaspe||soprano castrato||Calogero Barbarini|
|Argante||soprano castrato||Antonio Rubinacci|
Arbace's wife Semiri is in the hands of the lascivious Assyrian tyrant Scitalce. Arbace tries to rescue her by pretending to be his own assassin. Eventually they are rescued by Idaspe, Scitalce dies in a conflagration, and Arbace becomes the new ruler of Assyria.
- Casaglia, Gherardo (2005).[http://www.amadeusonline.net/almanacco?r=&alm_giorno=20&alm_mese=01&alm_anno=1781&alm_testo=Arbace "Arbace, 20 January 1781"]. Almanacco Amadeus (Italian).
- McClymonds, Marita P (1992), 'Arbace' in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London) ISBN 0-333-73432-7