Commissioned in celebration of the coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia, Mozart’s opera, »La clemenza di Tito«, was premiered in Prague in 1791. In this opera, Mozart provides a surprising answer to the question as to how a ruler or a ruling class should behave; unexpectedly, the opera is more of a thriller than a celebratory hymn to power. Intrigue abounds until even the city of Rome goes up in flames. The motives of the characters, however, are grounded not in political gain; rather, their actions are governed by deep passion. Vitellia loves Tito; Tito, on the other hand, wishes to marry Sesto’s sister Servilia. Sesto loves Vitellia, who promises him her hand if he kills Tito. Openly courted by Tito, Servilia admits her love for Annio. Tito praises their sincerity while ignoring a message warning him of deadly conspiracy. Then, in an unexpected turn of events, Tito seeks the hand of Vitellia, now no longer able to prevent her own assassination plot. As Sesto is on the verge of being condemned to death, Vitellia confesses that it was she who incited the murderous plan. In the ensuing conflict between questions of state and the love of friends, Tito recognizes the fundamental problem of the enlightened ruler who wishes to unite power and humanity. In the end he shows tolerance by extending general clemency. But is this triumph of compassion really more than simply utopian?
Opera seria in two acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Performed in Italian with German surtitles.
Running time 2 hours 30 minutes
Premiere 26 May 2012