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In a different opera Titus's love life might have unhinged him. At the beginning of his reign he sent the Jewish Berenice back to Palestine; his desire for Servilia as future empress (she is Sextus's sister) is thwarted by her declared love for Annius. Titus's admirable reaction is to urge everyone to be equally truthful [watch and listen -- DVD1 chapter 14, 0:00-1:20]. Christoph Prégardien's emperor has all the requisite dignity and authority; instead it is Sextus who is unhinged to the extent of not only plotting the murder of Titus but also making a bonfire of Rome. The whole cast but for the threatened emperor and including populus Romanus ends Act 1 in justifiable horror [watch and listen -- DVD1 chapter 20, 1:05-3:25].

Ekaterina Siurina (Servilia, left),  Roland Bracht (Publio) and Hannah Esther Minutillo (Annio) at the end of Act 1
Ekaterina Siurina (Servilia, left), Roland Bracht (Publio) and Hannah Esther Minutillo (Annio) at the end of Act 1

Sextus has been apprehended and is to be tried by the Senate. Publius as captain of the Praetorian Guard (Roland Bracht) is ready to haul him off, and Vitellia is sure her complicity in both arson and assassination will be revealed [watch and listen -- DVD2 chapter 4, 9:15-10:56]. Titus confronts Sextus with his guilt and after agonised dialogue condemns him to death. Publius is aware, though, that the emperor still nurses a deep affection for the criminal [watch and listen -- DVD2 chapter 11, 27:40-29:40]. It is then that Titus has a major struggle with his conscience; but no, Sextus must proceed to the amphitheatre and the animals.

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Copyright © 16 March 2006 Robert Anderson, London UK


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