Catone in Utica

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Catone in Utica (Italian pronunciation: [kaˈtoːne in ˈuːtika]) is an opera libretto by Metastasio, that was originally written for Leonardo Vinci's 1728 opera. Following Vinci's success, the work was used by numerous baroque and classical composers for their own operas, including Antonio Vivaldi and J. C. Bach among several others.


Catone in Utica was the first opera that Metastasio wrote for the Roman public, and it was received with mixed feelings. Although audiences in Naples had previously accepted Dido’s disappearance among the flames during the last spectacular moments of Didone abbandonata, Roman critics were not as gullible with a fantastical plot that included the mortally wounded Cato slowly dying across the last two scenes of the opera. Audiences and citics also objected to the secret pathway scene being played in a disused sewer. Being sensitive to critical response, Metastasio altered the second half of his third act. In the second version, first set by Leonardo Leo for Venice in 1729, Cato’s death is simply reported, and all that remains of the acquedotti antichi of the secret pathway scene is the entrance, to which a fountain of Isis and its surrounding trees create a visual diversion. Metastasio clearly regarded both versions of this drama as authentic, although most composers preferred the revision. In a setting by Giovanni Ferrandini, Catone in Utica opened the Cuvilliés theatre in Munich in 1753, and for J. C. Bach his setting for the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples (1761) was to become his most widely performed opera. The libretto also proved to be a popular success for composer Niccolò Piccinni in 1770, at the Hoftheater in Mannheim.


  • Eric Cross: "Don Neville", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed November 21, 2008), (subscription access)