Catiline Conspiracy, The
- Hugo Cole
Opera in two acts by Iain Hamilton to his own libretto after Ben Jonson ; Stirling, MacRobert Centre, 16 March 1974.
The action is set between 64 and 62 bc , in the last years of the Roman Republic. Catiline (baritone), failing in his attempt to gain election as consul, plots to seize power. The courtesan Fulvia (soprano) and her lover Quintus (tenor) reveal his plans to Cicero (tenor), who denounces Catiline in the Senate. Caesar (baritone) plays an equivocal part. Fulvia and Quintus are killed by Catiline’s wife Aurelia (soprano) and the patrician Sempronia (mezzo-soprano). Catiline raises a rebellion but is defeated by Cicero, the ‘man of peace’. Dying, he declares that Caesar will triumph where he has failed.
The most substantial of the nine short scenes is that in which Cicero denounces Catiline. There are no formal arias or ensembles, the vocal line for the most part following the inflections of natural speech, while the orchestra supplies a continuous commentary, carrying the action forward rapidly and with sure dramatic sense. The chorus play an important role. The opera was well received by public and critics, and laid the foundations of Hamilton’s operatic reputation....