Opera Scotland

Lucio Silla Lucius Sulla

Music

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (born Salzburg, 27 January 1756; died Vienna, 5 December 1791)

Text

Giovanni de Gamerra

Source

Loosely derived from classical Roman history

 

Premières

First Performance: Milan (Teatro Regio Ducal), 26 December 1772.

Fiirst Performance in UK: London (Camden Town Hall), 7 March 1967.

Fiirst Performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Festival Theatre), 13 March 1998.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.

 

Background

At the age of twelve, Mozart had enjoyed great success in Milan with his opera seria Mitridate, rè di Ponto, an astonishing work which has in recent years been recognised and performed widely, including an excellent staging at Covent Garden. The follow-up commission Lucio Silla, from the theatre that would soon become La Scala, has still not had that kind of success. Indeed it has not yet been staged by a major British company. The leading roles of Cecilio and Giunia were tailored to the requirements of great singers. But the opera house had only engaged a mediocre tenor for the title role, which required his role to be abbreviated, and he only reached Milan a week before the opening. For Mozart the whole affair was a very rushed job which attests to his great talent and professionalism at the age of fourteen. Indeed his response to the drama seems rather more effective than with Mitridate.

 

Characters

Lucio Silla, Dictator of Rome (tenor)

Giunia, wife of Cecilio, loved by Silla (soprano)

Cecilio, a banished senator (soprano)

Lucio Cinna, Cecilio's friend (soprano)

Celia, Silla's sister (soprano)

Aufidio, adviser to Silla (tenor)

 

Plot Summary

At some personal risk, Cecilio has returned to Rome in secret. His friend Cinna tells him that Giunia is being courted by Silla, who has forced her to move into his palace. She is resisting his advances, and Celia tries to persuade Silla to be considerate towards Giunia. Aufidio thinks a more forceful approach is required. On a rare sortie from the palace, to pray at her father's tomb, Giunia is able to meet up with Cecilio. Cinna recommends that Giunia marry Silla, with the intention of murdering him when the opportunity should present itself. She resists this, but during a public ceremony on the Capitol, Silla applies further pressure by implying that her marriage to him would bring peace to the warring factions. Cecilio cannot bear this, and, revealing his presence, is promptly arrested. Giunia makes it clear that she is willing to die with Cecilio. Celia attempts to persuade her brother to be merciful, and Silla then announces not only that Cecilio will be pardoned, but that he will himself abdicate.

The Cast

Aufidio
 a tribune
Cecilio
 an exiled senator
Celia
 Silla's sister, in love with Cinna
Giunia
 wife of Cecilio, loved by Silla
Lucio Cinna
 friend of Cecilio, conspiring against Silla
Lucio Silla
 Dictator of Rome

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