Lucio Vero (‘Lucius Verus’)
- Marita P. McClymonds
Libretto by Apostolo Zeno, first set by C. F. Pollarolo (1700, Venice) and much re-used under a variety of titles.
The plot, taken from Roman history, deals with the Emperor Lucius Verus in Ephesus. He is promised to Lucilla, daughter of his co-emperor Marcus Aurelius, but is in love with his captive, Berenice, Queen of Armenia. Berenice is faithful to her betrothed, Vologeso [Vologeses], King of the Parthians, who was taken in battle. When Vologeses appears in the gladiatorial arena, she joins him. A lion threatens her, and Verus throws a sword to Vologeses, who kills it; Lucilla realizes that Verus loves Berenice. In Act 2, urged on by his friend Aniceto [Anicetus], Verus tries to separate the pair; Berenice would rather have Vologeses dead than become Verus’s wife. Verus orders Vologeses’ death, and Berenice resolves to die with him. Infuriated, Lucilla returns to Rome with her counsellor Claudio [Claudius] and enlists the Roman army against Verus. Act 3 begins in the Roman camp with military games in the form of a ballet. Meanwhile, Verus’s servant Niso [Nisus] brings Berenice a basin covered with a black cloth. She believes it contains Vologeses’ head, but as she lifts the cover the gloomy scene changes to a brilliant throne room: the basin contains a crown and sceptre. When Berenice still refuses Verus’s advances, Verus orders Vologeses’ death. Nisus reports that the people have turned against Verus, and that Lucilla is leading the Roman army in an attack; Verus stops the execution and is reconciled with Lucilla. Meanwhile Berenice, believing Vologeses dead, goes mad and is about to kill herself when Vologeses enters. He has uncovered a plot devised by Anicetus to gain Lucilla for himself. Verus apologizes and wishes the faithful couple well. The characters depart in separate ships during an antiphonal ...