6.7/10
13
4 user 1 critic

La clemenza di Tito (1991)

| Drama, Music | TV Movie
Titus Vespasian, Emperor of Rome, has succeeded to the throne that his father, Vespasian, usurped from the Emperor Vitellius. Vitellia, daughter of Vitellius, urges her boyfriend Sextus to ... See full summary »

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(libretto), (after)
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Credited cast:
Philip Langridge ...
Tito
Diana Montague ...
Sesto
Elzbieta Szmytka ...
Servilia
Ashley Putnam ...
Vitellia
Martine Mahé ...
Annio
Peter Rose ...
Publio
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Stephen Bryant ...
Himself - Orchestra leader
Andrew Davis ...
Himself - Conductor
Joyce Fieldsend ...
Herself - Hearpshicord contunio
The Glyndebourne Chorus ...
Chorus
London Philharmonic Orchestra ...
Themselves - Orchestra
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Titus Vespasian, Emperor of Rome, has succeeded to the throne that his father, Vespasian, usurped from the Emperor Vitellius. Vitellia, daughter of Vitellius, urges her boyfriend Sextus to join the conspiracy against Titus and his consort Berenice. Sextus, however, is loyal to Titus. The other players include Annius, Sextus's friend; Servilia, Sextus's sister; and Publius, captain of the guard. When Sextus sees the Capitol in flames, he runs to save Titus, but thinks himself too late when he comes upon a dying man wearing the royal purple. Sextus prepares to kill himself, but Annius tells him it is the conspirator Lentulus who is disguised in the robes. Sextus exchanges cloaks with Annius, since his own bears the badge of the conspirators. Unfortunately, this means that Annius is arrested for treason. He is willing to take the fall for Sextus, but the dying Lentulus tells the truth, Annius is freed, and Sextus is arrested. Sextus, too, maintains silence to protect Vitellia. Vitellia ... Written by Fiona Kelleghan <fkelleghan@aol.com>

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Drama | Music

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I megalopsyhia tou Titou  »

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User Reviews

 
The flying saucer is a mistake
8 October 2004 | by (Birmingham, England) – See all my reviews

This is not the best version of Tito that I have ever heard, and I have only heard two. But, to be fair, that is probably two more than most people. It is not Mozart's most popular opera even though it is his last, postdating the Magic Flute. It was written quickly as an occasion piece for the celebration of the Bohemian King's coronation. As such, it had to say nice things about royalty, which is probably why audiences have not warmed to it. The Nastiness of Nero would probably have been better box-office than the Clemency of Titus. Even the King of Bohemia would probably have preferred it.

Still, I have a soft spot for this opera. I like the idea of an emperor who keeps on forgiving people when they try to kill him even when he knows that a more judicious response would be to throw them to the lions. I also have a great respect for Glyndebourne Opera. In live productions and also on film I have found them to be consistently the best company in the UK.

So what went wrong? Maybe one clue is in the billing: Nicholas Hytner's La Clemenza di Tito, suggesting based on an original idea by WA Mozart. (this is probably the fault of the Performance Channel rather than any self-aggrandisement on Nicholas Hytner's part) I really wanted to enjoy this production but my crapometer started to twitch during the first recitatives. My cat loves opera: she can quite happily sleep on my knee for 4 ¾ hours of Gotterdammerung but even she left in disgust after 20 minutes. Apparently the recitatives were written by a pupil of Mozart's and are not very good so Glyndebourne commissioned someone to rewrite them. Well, if they want to do that, fine but he did not have to make them sound like a fruit gum jingle.

This opera contains two of the best castrato roles in the repertory. Diana Montague sings Sesto as a mezzo rather than a castrato, which is good for her but bad for us. The diminutive Martine Mahé is cute and has a sweet voice. She makes a perfect man, providing that man is Dudley Moore. Ashley Putnam sings and acts the role of Vitellia as though she is auditioning for a role in Eastenders. Philip Langridge as Tito wears a bemused expression and a toga throughout. He looks like someone who is having a relaxing bath when he hears the doorbell ring; he wraps a sheet around himself and answers the door only to find that it is the Jehovah's Witnesses. Elzbieta Smytka as Servila and Peter Rose as Publius glow like tiny diamonds in this undistinguished cast. Andrew Davis, conducting, achieves the remarkable feat of making Mozart sound boring.

The design and costumes are a disaster. Why are the women in trouser roles wearing billowing red skirts? I also think that the flying saucer at the end of Act I is a mistake


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