Arne: Artaxerxes

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Act One
Mandane and Arbaces are in love, but Mandane's father, King Xerxes, has banished Arbaces from the palace. Artabanes enters with a bloody sword, having just murdered Xerxes. He exchanges swords with his son, and tells Artaxerxes that his father must have been killed by Darius, Artaxerxes' elder brother and heir to the throne; he offers to arrest Darius.

Artaxerxes expresses his love for Semira, Arbaces' sister, who shrugs off the advances of Rimenes before considering how unhappy she would be were Artaxerxes to be killed.

Artabanes announces that he has had Darius executed, but Arbaces is then discovered with the blood-stained sword. He refuses to incriminate his father, leaving the other characters to contemplate his apparent guilt.

Act Two
Artabanes offers to let Arbaces escape and lead a rebellion, but Arbaces refuses. Instead, Artabanes and Rimenes plot to kill Artaxerxes, with Semira offered as Rimenes' reward. Torn by indecision, Artaxerxes places Arbaces' fate in the hands of Artabanes, who condemns his son to death; Artaxerxes, though, permits a stay of execution. Mandane and Semira berate Artabanes and Artaxerxes respectively for their failure to save Arbaces.

Act Three
Artaxerxes comes to Arbaces' cell and enables him to escape. When Artabanes and Rimenes then arrive with the same intention and find the cell empty, they assume that Arbaces has already been executed; they resolve to take revenge on Artaxerxes by poisoning him as he takes his coronation oath. Meanwhile, Mandane is reunited with Arbaces, whom she thought dead.

At his coronation Artaxerxes is about to drink from the poisoned cup, but is interrupted by news that Arbaces has single-handedly quelled a rebellion led by Rimenes. Arbaces enters, and Artaxerxes offers him the cup with which to pledge his innocence. Artabanes is forced to intercept, confessing to the poison and to his previous crimes. Artaxerxes spares his life but banishes him from the kingdom, and the two couples - Arbaces and Mandane, Artaxerxes and Semira - are joyfully united.