In the 18th century, women in serious opera, the opere serie, were not the meek and gentle victims found in the bourgeois era that followed. Beautiful, intelligent and capable of wielding power they fight, often successfully,
for their thrones and their loves. They display virtues that make them predestined to be rulers, in many cases more convincingly than their male adversaries. Even when forced to accept defeat they do not lose their composure
but contain the emotions that threaten to overwhelm them with dignity and equanimity. Joyce DiDonato presents royal arias sung by Armida, Berenice, Cleopatra, Semiramide and other influential women.