Vespasiano, Il (‘Vespasian’)
- Lowell Lindgren
Drama in three acts by Attilio Ariosti to a libretto by Nicola Francesco Haym , after Giulio Cesare Corradi ’s libretto; London, King’s Theatre, 14 January 1724.
Tito [Titus] (mezzo-soprano) spends the opera avoiding his faithful wife Arricida [Arrecina] (soprano) so that he can dally with his new sweetheart Gesilla (alto). Meanwhile, his villainous brother Domiziano [Domitian] (soprano) is attempting to usurp the imperial throne from their father Vespasian (bass) and obtain Arrecina for himself. Sergio (alto), a Roman general, foils the villain in Acts 1 and 3, and his surprising circumventions of Domitian’s wicked designs, together with attempted and onstage murders, provide an extraordinarily exciting stage spectacle, but the love intrigues suffer from total inertia.
Ariosti’s arias (but not his recitatives) survive; a large portion of them are syllabically set dance-like tunes of a gentle, languishing, pre-classical character. They suit the infatuated Titus and Gesilla, but not Arrecina or the fierce Domitian, and the audience judged ...