Opera Scotland

Catiline Conspiracy

Music
Iain Hamilton (born Glasgow, 6 June 1922; died London, 21 July 2000)

Text
The composer

Source
Play Catiline, His Conspiracy (1611) by Ben Jonson (1572-1637) derived from Cicero and Sallust.

Premières
First performance: Stirling (MacRobert Centre), 16 March 1974.
First UK performance: As above.
First performance in Scotland: As above.
Scottish Opera première: As above.

Background
The Catiline Conspiracy, set in Rome 63BC, was the first of a series of four operas commissioned by Scottish Opera from Scottish composers, with assistance from the Scottish Arts Council and the Scottish Opera Endowment Fund. One première followed each year until 1977. Resources were specified – a medium, Mozart–sized orchestra, and small chorus, with a guaranteed initial run of ten performances. Hamilton’s existing unperformed pieces were unsuitably large in scale, and The Royal Hunt of the Sun and the later Anna Karenina were both premiered by ENO in London. Catiline was quite a popular success and was revived in 1978, though not performed since. It is fast moving, dramatically effective and contains varied and attractive music, including the debates in the Senate and lyrical interludes in the patrician households.

Main Characters
Fulvia, a courtesan (soprano)
Sempronia, a wealthy patrician (mezzo-soprano)
Caesar, a senator (baritone)
Crassus, a wealthy patrician, later Consul (bass)
Catiline, a senator (baritone)
Aurelia, Catiline’s wife (mezzo-soprano)
Quintus, a conspiring senator and Fulvia’s lover (tenor)
Cato, a senator (bass)
Cicero, a senator, later Consul (tenor)

Plot Summary
A clique of patricians is wary of the growing power of Pompey and of Cicero, who is seen as a man of integrity, but also an upstart. At Fulvia’s reception, some patricians offer their power and wealth to help Catiline gain election to the consulship. However he remains envious of their wealth and meets with a group of conspirators who intend to overthrow the Republic by force. Although she has become Caesar’s lover, Fulvia maintains her relationship with Quintus, and he tells her of the conspiracy. She is jealous of Sempronia and the other patricians, so reveals the plot to Cicero. He recognises that Pompey and Caesar present a long-term threat to Rome, but that Catiline is his immediate problem. Catiline loses the election for Consul, and Caesar tells him to put his plot into effect. Catiline’s wife is still fearful of the outcome, but the plot is hatched to set Rome on fire and bring in his army during the confusion. In the Senate Cicero reveals the plot and Catiline is hounded out. Cicero names the other conspirators who are present. As punishment for them, Caesar proposes exile but Cato insists they die. Quintus tries to implicate Caesar, without success, but the other plotters, realising Quintus must have betrayed them, kill him. The murder of a senator in the Senate house appals Cicero. Catiline leaves to join his army. Sempronia tells Aurelia of the betrayal, and when Fulvia arrives they kill her. As Catiline lies mortally wounded, he predicts the rise of Caesar.

The Cast

Aurelia
 Catiline's wife
Caesar
 a senator
Catiline
 a senator
Cato
 a senator
Cethegus
 conspirator and senator
Cicero
 Consul
Crassus
 Consul
Fulvia
 a courtesan
Galla
 Fulvia's maid
Ghost of Sulla
 
Lecca
 conspirator and senator
Lentulus
 conspirator and senator
Longinus
 conspirator and senator
Quintus
 conspirator and senator
Sempronia
 a wealthy patrician

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