Antonio Lotti: Ascanio
Ascanio was the twenty-second of Lotti's twenty-three
operas, performed in Dresden for the Carnival in February 1718.
The opera requires a cast of eight*, and the original performers are
shown next to the roles:
Contralto Santa Stella Lotti
Johanna Elisabeth Döbricht-Hesse
"Baronessa di Bön"
The instrumentation is 2 violins, 2 oboes, 2 flutes, 2 horns (corni
da caccia), viola, bass and keyboard continuo (inc. bassoon).
The libretto lists Giuseppi Boschi in the role of ORESTE, though
Boschi was a Bass, and the role is for a Castrato (Alto). Dresden
Mus. 2159-F-6 is a contemporary manuscript of the arias, with each
singer listed in the Index of Arias. It lists Gaetano Berenstadt, a
suitable castrato, in the role. (Interestingly, they have the same
initials.) It also lists Margherita Zani in the role of ALBA, and
Lucia Gaggi in that of CELSO. The remaining singers are the same.
The opera was repeated on 7 and 29 September 1719, which could
explain the changes.
* The role of Nana is one recit and aria, and could be excised
The opera could be performed with the high Castrato parts sung down
one octave as Tenor parts. Indeed: the Alto part Oreste could
conceivably be sung by a Bass, on the assumption that it was
originally conceived as a Bass part for Boschi and was re-cast for
Alto upon his indisposition.
Ascanio, though young, siezes the throne of Agellia, ousting
Mezenzio, who flees with his son and daughter. A storm wrecks their
ship, and Mezenzio believes his son to be drowned. He meets Lavinia,
Ascanio’s step-mother and widow of Aeneas (of Trojan fame). She has been
sent into exile by Oreste, who sees her as a threat to Ascanio, because
she is pregnant. She gives birth to a daughter, and dies. Mezenzio
raises the baby, Silvia, along with his own daughter Alba. Mezenzio
brings up Silvia to seek revenge against Ascanio. Meanwhile, Mezenzio’s
baby son is discovered by Oreste, and brought up as his own, named
They return to the city, and under the name of Asterio, Mezenzio
insinuates himself into the court. Evandro falls in love with Alba (his
sister), planning to marry her. Ascanio, too falls for Silvia (his
half-sister), and she is conflicted.
Ascanio and Evandro have become companions, and
Ascanio seeks to crown Evandro alongside himself. Oreste halts the
ceremony, and reveals that Evandro is not his son, but the son of
Silvia comes across a sleeping Ascanio, but cannot
bring herself to kill him. She flees, leaving a sword beside him.
Mezenzio goes to complete the task, but Evandro stops him. Mezenzio
reveals his true identity to his son, and flees. Ascanio wakes to find
the dropped sword, and suspects Evandro, who refuses to explain. Evandro
is shackled and sentenced to death. Silvia learns of this, and confesses
to Ascanio. Oreste pushes Ascanio to execute Silvia and Evandro.
Mezenzio lies about the true birth of Evandro and Silvia to save them,
and reveals himself to Ascanio, who tells hims that Silvia and Evandro
are dead. After seeing Mezenzio’s grief, Ascanio reveals Evandro and
Silvia. All are reunited and the noble lineage of the combined Royal
family, past and future, is shown.
The libretto was written by Antonio Maria Lucchini (c.1690 -
A FULL SCORE of the
complete opera is available to download as a PDF. Instrumental
parts are available on request.
This is a part of our series of all Lotti's
surviving opera scores.