Magazine article Gramophone

Handel

Magazine article Gramophone

Handel

Article excerpt

Handel

Catone (pasticcio, compiled and arranged by Handel from Leo's Catone and music by Hasse, Porpora, Vinci and Vivaldi)

Sonia Prina contr            Catone
Riccardo Novaro bar          Cesare
Roberta Invernizzi sop       Emilia
Kristina Hammarstrom mez     Arbace
Lucia Cirillo mez            Marzia
Auser Musici / Carlo Ipata

Glossa (F) (2) GCD923511 (125' * ODD) Includes synopsis, text and translation

Metastasio's drama about the Roman patriot Cato's preference to commit suicide rather than submit to the dictator Julius Caesar was first set to music by Vinci (Rome, 1728), but soon afterwards the poet rewrote the final act; this revised version was set to music by Leo (Venice, 1728), although nine arias by other composers were used. Handel might have attended a performance of Leo's opera while in Italy recruiting new singers, and in 1732 he used it as the basis of a pasticcio for the London stage. He carried over the overture and nine arias from Leo's score but the rest of the arias were swapped for music by Hasse (six arias), Porpora (four), Vivaldi (at least two) and Vinci (one); it is unlikely Handel chose many (if any) of these substitutions--most were taken from the repertoire of the singers in his company (a few months later the same cast premiered Orlando). His limited creative involvement was the abridgement and adjustment of Leo's recitatives.

The authorship of the arias is cited in Glossa's booklet, which does not explain that Carlo Ipata's performance makes heavy cuts to almost all recitatives, omits two arias from Act 2 and reshapes the opera into two halves (rather than three acts). This massacres the dramatic congruence of a plot already rendered threadbare by Handel: for example, the climactic confrontation in which Cato saves his enemy Cesare from ignoble assassination (a key part of Act 3) is bowdlerised; even the reporting of Cato's suicide in the final scene is truncated.

Sonia Prina sings numerous Leo arias as the tragic hero Cato, whose intense bitterness at his daughter Marzia's confession that she loves his enemy produces stirring dramatic music of the highest quality ('Dovea svenarti all'ora'). Lucia Cirillo displays plenty of vocal skill and theatrical sureness as Marzia: 'Confusa, smarrita spiegarti vorrei' (Leo) vividly portrays Marzia's torn loyalties between her lover and her father, and the opera concludes with her defiant heroism as she vows vengeance ('Vo solcando un mar crudele' from Vinci's Artaserse). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.