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date: 12 July 2020

Virginialocked

  • Malena Kuss

Extract

Tragedia lírica in three acts by José Angel Montero to a libretto by Domenico Bancalari (in Italian); Caracas, Teatro Caracas, 27 April 1873.

The plot, drawn from Roman history, centres on Appius Claudius (baritone), a member of the Decemviri, the commission drawn up to formulate a code of laws known as the Twelve Tables. After its completion in 450 bc Appius Claudius heads a reign of terror to quash an uprising by the plebeians, among whom is Virginia (soprano), daughter of the centurion Virginio (bass), who stabs her to save her from becoming the lover and slave of Appius Claudius. The moral corruption and abuse of power among the Decemviri eventually precipitate their downfall in 449 bc.

The themes of popular defiance against political despotism and of heroic personal sacrifice to the cause of human dignity and freedom appealed to Montero who, like his librettist Bancalari in the pre-unified Italy of Garibaldi’s day, was a committed liberal. The expression of lofty, archetypal emotion pervades the score. The impact of Italian operatic tradition is evident: in accordance with conventions established some 50 years earlier, Montero condensed the traditional scena, cantabile, ...

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