|After the death of Mozart December 1791...|
J. Rice publishes in 2016 an updated version of a few pages dedicated to the opera
Catilina by Salieri and Casti, written in 1792. Such pages did not appear
in his major book Antonio Salieri and Viennese Opera (Chicago, 1998), due to lack of space.
The libretto Catilina, completed by Casti (the famous/infamous collaborator of Salieri in the 1780s) in November 1791, was read to a distinguished audience of few friends and guests of Count Rosenberg-Orsini, the long time patron of Casti, on 26 November 1791 (de facto a week before the death of Mozart), a few days after informal Court notes with finally the future new designation of Casti as Court Poet under Leopold II.
The opera Catilina by Casti and Salieri features some weird characteristics, with the actual heroes of the story, Cicero and Cato, treated (also musically) as comic buffo characters and the villain Catilina with a few (also musical) traits typical of the opera heroes and not of the opera villains.
It is interesting to consider what Casti and Salieri were working on between December 1791 and Spring 1792: an opera on intrigues, where the heroes are more buffo and the villains are more heroes... and this after Da Ponte (the rival of Casti and enemy of Salieri) banished from the Austrian Empire in 1791 by Leopold II, Mozart dead in December 1791, van Swieten losing various positions at Court in the same December 1791, Leopold II himself dead (probably by poisoning already in March 1792), Casti poeta cesareo at Court (instead of Da Ponte) and Cimarosa (who had to receive the Court position of Salieri, instead of Salieri) sent away from Vienna and leaving that music position to Salieri, who so will remain King of the Music Hill at Vienna Court for another 30 years... After all, Leopold II himself described Casti as the famous intriguer and abusive abbé.
As Rice points out, the opera Catilina featured also some difficult political themes, that, in late 1791 and in 1792, with the most dramatic phases of the French Revolution already underway, were not to be considered for the public stage. For this reason, this opera by Casti and Salieri, left unperformed in 1790s, premiered for the first time only in 1994.
Read the complete article by J. Rice (Academia.edu):
Casti, Salieri, and Catilina: Political Tragicomedy during the French Revolution
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