Maometto II, a dramma per musica in two acts to a libretto by Cesare Della Valle, was first performed at Teatro San Carlo, Naples, on 3rd December 1820.
The singers in the first performances were Andrea Nozzari (Paolo Erisso), Isabella Colbran (Anna), Adelaide Comelli (Calbo), Giuseppe Ciccimarra (Condulmiero), Filippo Galli (Maometto II), Gaetano Chizzola (Selimo).
The Sultan Mahomet II, at the head of his armies, has laid siege to the Venetian Colony of Negroponte in Greece, and is threatening to set fire to the city unless the gates are thrown open to him on the following day. Paolo Erisso, the Venetian commander, calls a Council of War to decide what shall be done. When Condulmiero proposes that they should lay down their arms and surrender, the young general Calbo urges them all to resist; they draw their swords and swear that they will fight to the death. Erisso, who is worried about what might happen to his daughter Anna, takes Calbo to her rooms and tells her that he has promised her hand in marriage to this young general, who will be able to give her better protection against the Mohammedan troops. With this end in view he tells her to go with them to her mother’s grave, where the marriage will be performed. However, Anna hesitantly informs her father that she is in love with Uberto, King of Mitilene, whom she met in Corinth whilst her father was away in Venice. It so happens, however, that the real Uberto was on board ship bound for Venice at the very same time as Erisso and so it becomes clear that Anna has fallen in love with an impostor masquerading under the name of Uberto. This explanation is now interrupted by the sound of cannon fire: under cover of darkness some traitor has opened the city gates to Mahomet. On parting from his daughter Erisso gives her a dagger and Anna declares that she is ready to stab herself rather than fall into the hands of the enemy. Then she goes into the church to pray.
At this point almost all Negroponte has been captured by the enemy and Erisso and Calbo are taken prisoner whilst defending their last stronghold, the fortress. When they are brought into the presence of the conqueror, Mahomet recognises Erisso as the father of Anna, the girl he loves, and he offers to spare the commander’s life on condition that the fortress is surrendered. When Erisso indignantly refuses, Mahomet orders that he and Calbo be dragged off to execution. Just as the guards are leading them off Anna comes out of the church, rushes up to them and, to the general amazement, recognizes in Mahomet the young man who had pretended to be Uberto, and with whom she had fallen in love. Threatening to stab herself, the girl begs the Sultan to free her father and Calbo, who, she says, is her brother. Mahomet grants her request and has the two men set free, but asks Anna to marry him. Anna dare not answer: doubtful and confused, she cannot decide between her father and her enemy lover.