Vivaldi: Tito Manlio

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ALBUM TITLE: Vivaldi: Tito Manlio
WORKS: Tito Manlio
PERFORMER: Karina Gauvin, Ann Hallenberg, Marijana Mijanovic, Debora Beronesi; Accademia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone
According to a note at the head of the score, Vivaldi’s Tito Manlio (1719) was composed in the space of five days. The libretto by Matteo Noris concerns a dispute which has arisen between the Romans and the Latins. The Roman Senate, headed by Titus Manlius, has denied the Latins a consul of Latin birth so they declare war on Rome. Secret love, familial disobedience, a father on the point of signing his son’s death warrant and much else, too, provided Vivaldi with a chance to write arias of a strongly contrasting character within the framework of a traditionally heroic and mainly satisfying drama.


The cast, headed by Karina Gauvin in the heroic castrato role of Manlio, son of Tito Manlio, is very good indeed. Manlio has two ravishing arias in Act III: ‘Sonno, se pur sei sonno’, accompanied by palpitating strings, and ‘Ti lascerei gl’affetti miei’. Gauvin sings these with expressive fervour, tonal purity and stylistic assurance. Ann Hallenberg as Servilia, Manlio’s betrothed, also deserves special mention: her ‘Parto, ma lascio l’alma’ (Act I) and ‘Tu dormi in tante pene’ with viola d’amore (Act III) are touching for their evenly and beautifully restrained emotions. Other delights include Latin Knight Lucio’s ‘Alla caccia d’un ben adorato’ (Act I) in which Vivaldi colours the hunting simile with a horn, Tito’s robust ‘Orribile lo scempio’ (Act I) and his daughter Vitellia’s agitated ‘Di verde ulivo’ (Act I) coloured by a virtuoso cello obbligato.


Notwithstanding a few cuts, this production is a triumph prefaced, in the absence of an overture, by a scintillating account of the G major Concerto/Sinfonia (RV 146) for ripieno strings – a real cracker of a piece. Bravo! Nicholas Anderson