<< -- 2 -- Robert Anderson IMPRESSIVELY MUSICAL
All the more important, then, that Mozart should portray an absolute ruler of exemplary character.
Titus had wrecked the Third Temple in Jerusalem in a fit of pique at local fanaticism; but all his
young-man debaucheries were cast aside when he became emperor, and his reputation conveniently
survived an early death. When surrounded in the opera by a group of characters emotionally at sixes
and sevens, each apparently more neurotic than the last, Titus and his clemency have almost too
easy a ride. He just manages to sign a death warrant, only to burn it at once.
Catherine Naglestad as Vitellia (left) with Susan Graham as Sesto in Act 1 of 'La Clemenza di Tito'
Nothing in the work is more glorious than the overture, in which the cunning of Mozart's
orchestration is matched by the effortless subtlety of his counterpoint
[watch and listen -- DVD1 chapter 1, 1:40-2:56].
The basic libretto was an old one by Metastasio, modernised by drastically cutting the number
of arias and increasing the ensembles. With the first duet we are in the thick of things.
The Vitellia of Catherine Naglestad, hectic daughter of a loathsome father, has made a cat's paw
of the young senator Sextus (Susan Graham), trusted friend of the emperor. She wants Titus dead
by sunset so that she can have the throne Vitellius briefly held. Sextus beseeches a tender glance
[watch and listen -- DVD1 chapter 3, 8:41-10:13].
Copyright © 16 March 2006
Robert Anderson, London UK