The Sense of the Ending in <i>La clemenza di Tito</i>

Jessica Waldoff

in Recognition in Mozart's Operas

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780195151978
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199870387 | DOI:
The Sense of the Ending in La clemenza di Tito

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La clemenza di Tito, a political allegory, dramatizes clemency as a central tenet of enlightened governance. The events of the plot allow dark tendencies in human nature to threaten enlightenment values (and Rome itself), but ultimately suggest the futility of rebellion against a virtuous and benevolent ruler. The restoration of these values depends on recognition scenes in which the three central protagonists overcome their baser instincts: Vitellia her jealousy and ambition, Sesto his abandonment of reason for passion, and Tito his angry renunciation of his merciful policies. These recognition scenes are shown to be central to the opera's dramatization of enlightenment themes. At the dénouement, Tito pardons the conspirators, reaffirms his policy of clemency, and exclaims, “Let it be known in Rome that I am myself” — a moment of self-recognition vital to the sense of the ending.

Keywords: La clemenza di Tito; enlightenment; clemency; political allegory; self-recognition; Vitellia; Sesto; Tito

Chapter.  14191 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Opera

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