The considerable resonance of Sernicola and Guglielmi’s Debora e Sisara and its immediate repetition in Naples established Lenten tragedy in a resounding manner and as an autonomous season within the annual calendar of the San Carlo. The genre of the azione sacra-or, in the words of Saverio Mattei, “tragic sacred theater”— offered a compelling model, a new avenue intended to move beyond contemporary opera seria in its dramatic and musical content as well as the very nature of its production. Sernicola’s libretti were steeped in the sources of the Old Testament, and at times the verses themselves were drawn directly from specific passages thereof, providing a pointed contrast to the historical and mythological bases of opera seria. Yet the libretto of Debora did retain core elements of mainstream theater (especially the aria types and varied ensembles), and Guglielmi’s musical setting clothed them in an innovative scoring and progressive formal structures. The azione sacra retained, moreover, one of the most critical and influential elements of its counterpart opera seria: an engagement and ongoing rapport with society and a specific understanding and transmission of contemporary social discourse, whether of a political, cultural, or purely artistic nature. It did depart from opera seria, however, in a profound manner. The essential nature of the Old Testament sources and mere programming of this genre during Lent, a liturgical season of reflection and meditation that had previously prohibited the performance of opera, imparted to it an inherent moral high ground. The direct sanction of its performance by the Crown deepened this distinction while it also reasserted the regalist policies of the court in a time of rising religious, political, and societal change and unrest. The recourse to religious themes as the basis of the azione sacra represents its defining quality and it places the genre in a close rapport with Neapolitan society and the Bourbon monarchy in the late eighteenth century. From the perspective of an artistic and theatrical genre, it was not a stereotyped tradition bound to creative and productive legacies and specific conventions such as opera seria. This “freedom” encouraged an innovative content, liberal appropriation of the most progressive ideas, and at times notable experimentation, as discussed in regard to Debora e Sisara. The spiritual orientation of these dramas ultimately point toward a more substantive point: the changing cultural landscape of the capital city and kingdom at the end of the 1780s.