La clemenza di Tito

Dramma per musica in three acts (1752)

Music by Christoph Willibald Gluck
Libretto by Pietro Metastasio
Concertante performance in Italian

Monday, 11 May 2015
7 pm

Conductor: Werner Ehrhardt
With Laura Aikin, Benjamin Bruns et al.
Orchester l´arte del mondo

A production of l’arte del mondo and Bayer Kultur Leverkusen with the support of the Ministry of Families, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Arts Foundation of NRW.

The production at the Theater an der Wien is supported by the Arts Foundation of NRW.


Gluck had been commissioned in 1752 to write an opera for Naples to mark the name day celebrations of King Charles III. The opera was to be “of an entirely different style, the like of which has never been heard before.” The composer willingly embraced this instruction and created an opera of such modern character that the distinguished composer Francesco Durante was consulted about one particular controversial passage and is said to have emarked, “I will not decide whether this note follows the rules or not, but what I can say is that if I had written it I should consider myself a great man.”
Spurred on by his lover Vitellia, Sesto sets fire to the Capitol so that he can kill Emperor Tito in the tumult. But the assassination attempt fails. Because Sesto refuses to name his beloved as the instigator, it is decreed that he should die in the amphitheatre. But Vitellia confesses her guilt. Tito shows mercy and pardons them. Pietro Metastasio’s well-known and popular text had been the ideal basis for a eulogy to a monarch since 1734. Gluck managed to breathe new life into the somewhat wooden and stereotypical characters of the original. Most of Gluck’s arias in La clemenza di Tito are marked by a heartfelt sensitivity that anticipates his reformed opera Alceste.