Catone in Utica(i) (‘Cato in Utica’)
- Stephen Shearon
(‘Cato in Utica’)
Tragedia per musica in three acts by Leonardo Leo to a libretto by Pietro Metastasio; Venice, Teatro di S Giovanni Grisostomo, Carnival 1729.
Leo was the first composer to set the revised version of Metastasio’s libretto (see Catone in Utica above); his setting includes some additional arias by an unknown Venetian (possibly Lalli). Catone in Utica was his third opera for Venice and his first setting of a Metastasian libretto. Leo’s style is generally more complex, with thicker textures, than that of his contemporaries; notable are the increasingly periodic phrase structure, slower harmonic rhythm, sophisticated orchestration and the lack of simple continuo arias. The singers in the first production were the soprano castrato Nicolini (Catone [Cato]), the soprano castrato Domenico Gizzi (Cesare [Caesar]), the soprano Lucia Facchinelli (Marzia [Marcia]), the soprano Antonia Negri (Emilia), the soprano castrato Farinelli (Arbace [Arbaces]) in his Venetian début, and the bass Giuseppe Maria Boschi (Fulvio [Fulvius]). The opera was also performed in London in the form of ...