Out of the Wings

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La hija del aire, parts 1 and 2 (c.1652-1653), Pedro Calderón de la Barca


The play is in two parts, each a full-length comedia of three acts.


Woods’ translation was written for radio, an apt example of how this play can be performed with the most minimal of staging. However, its palatial settings and outdoor battles might also lead the director to desire a full-scale production, which the epic language and sweeping action would suit very well. In Part 1, Nino’s glorious return to the city after his triumphant battles could be cause for the addition of music and welcoming processions, and Semiramis’ rescue from her labyrinthine wilderness prison could provide another spectacular location. Semiramis saves King Nino from his runaway horse, although this probably happens offstage. Semiramis’ entrance to Ninevah is another cause for public celebration, but the garden scene between Semiramis and Menon, to which Nino and Irene are hidden witnesses, provides a more intimate setting. The greatest staging challenge is undoubtedly the final scene, in which Menon appears with his eyes put out to warn Semiramis at her coronation. The crowning festivity could be a lavish occasion, but it is thrown into disarray by the sound of thunder and wind, and the brewing storm that ends the play.

Part 2 contains a great many scenes of cruelty from Semiramis as she punishes those who turn against her, and the setting could be as palatial or representatively simple as the director prefers. The battle scenes require some indication of offstage fighting and the carrying of weapons. Semiramis and her son Ninias must resemble each other enough for Semiramis to impersonate him believably, or for a solution to be found to how she can pass herself off as him by wearing male clothing. Semiramis dies shot through with arrows and the illusion that she has fallen from the great height of a cliff in the background would be appropriate on the final battlefield.

Cast number
Minimum Maximum
6 males 10 males
3 females 7 females
9 (total) 17 (total)
Cast information
Many of the parts can be doubled, and the number of extra soldiers, attendants and musicians can be kept as high or low as the production requires.

Part 1:

  • MENÓN, General in Nino’s army
  • TIRESIAS, An old man
  • NINO, King
  • ARSIDAS, Really ‘Lidoro’
  • FLORO, Soldier
  • CHATO, Comic figure of low birth
  • SEMÍRAMIS, Daughter of a nymph of Diana
  • IRENE, King Nino’s sister
  • SIRENE, Chato’s wife

Part 2:

  • SEMÍRAMIS, Now Queen of Assyria
  • LIDORO, Called ‘Arsidas’ in Part 1
  • CHATO, Comic figure of low birth
  • NINIAS, Son of Nino and Semiramis, heir to the throne
  • IRÁN, Son of Lidoro

Entry written by Kathleen Jeffs. Last updated on 24 February 2011.

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