Lucio Silla

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Lucio Silla (pronounced /ˈl ˈsɪlɒ/, Italian pronunciation: [ˈluːtʃo ˈsiːlla]), K. 135, is an Italian opera in three acts composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The libretto was written by Giovanni de Gamerra.

It was first performed on 26 December 1772 at the Teatro Regio Ducal in Milan and was regarded as "a moderate success".[1]

Handel's opera Silla (1713) covered the same subject. Other operas with the same title were also composed by Pasquale Anfossi (1774), and Johann Christian Bach (1776).

Performance history[edit]

The opera was given its first performance in the UK on 7 March 1967 at Camden Town Hall in London. Its US premiere followed in 1969 with a performance in Baltimore on 19 January.[1] Lucio Silla is not often performed today, although it was given by the Santa Fe Opera in 2005 [2] and in Warsaw in June 2011. It was performed by the Classical Opera Company in London on 8 March 2012, conducted by Ian Page.[3] It is set to be performed in Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona on June 21-28, and July 1-7 2013.[4] In 2013 it was also performed at the Mozartwoche Salzburg in January and the Salzburg Festival in summer.


Role Voice type Premiere cast, 26 December 1772
(Conductor: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
Lucio Silla (Lucius Cornelius Sulla), dictator of Rome tenor Bassano Morgnoni
Celia, sister of Lucio Silla soprano Daniella Mienci
Giunia (Junia), betrothed to Cecilio soprano Anna de Amicis-Buonsolazzi
Cecilio (Cecilius), Roman senator in exile soprano castrato Venanzio Rauzzini
Lucio (Lucius) Cinna, friend of Cecilio soprano Felicità Suardi
Aufidio (Aufidius), tribune and friend of Lucio Silla tenor Giuseppe Onofrio
Guards, nobles, senators, people (chorus)


The story concerns the Roman dictator Lucio Silla (Lucius Sulla) who lusts after Giunia, the daughter of his enemy Caius Marius. Giunia, on the other hand, loves the exiled senator Cecilio.

Act 1[edit]

Sc 1 A secluded spot on the banks of the Tiber; the exiled Senator Cecilio meets his friend Cinna who tells him his betrothed Giunia mourns his death, a lie by the dictator Silla so that he can win her for himself. Cinna advises Cecilio to meet Giunia by the tomb of her father (murdered hero Gaius Marius). Cecilio is filled with joy at the idea and Cinna shares his joy and predicts the freedom of Rome *aria: Vieni ov’ amor t’ inita. Sc 2 Cecilio excited at the prospect of meeting his betrothed sings of his love *aria: il tenero momento. Sc 3 Giunia’s apartments; Silla seeks the advice of his sister Celia on his approach with Giunia and she advises subtlety and kindness, aria* se lusinghiera speme. Sc 4 On Silla’ approach Giunia declares her love for Cecilio and her hate for Silla, her father’s enemy *aria: Dalla sponda tenebrosa. Sc 5 Alone, Silla, insulted, decides to behave as a tyrant *aria: il desìo di vendetta, e di morte. Sc 6 Cecilio waits by the tomb Sc 7 for Giunia who arrives *chorus and ariosa: Fuor di queste urne dolente.

Act 2[edit]

An archway decorated with military trophies; Silla is joined by Celia to whom he tells of his plans to wed Giunia and for Celia to wed her beloved Cinna on this day. Sc 3 Cinna restrains Cecilio who has his sword drawn trying to follow Silla, believing he has been instructed by the spirit of Gaius Marius to seek revenge. Cinna tells him to consider Giunia and his rage is controlled *aria: Quest’ improvviso trèmito. Giunia consults with Cinna who suggests she accepts Sills proposal and murder him in their wedding bed. Giunia refuses, stating that vengeance is for Heaven alone to consider and asks Cinna to go make sure Cecilio stays hidden from danger *aria: Ah se il crudel periglio. Sc 5 Cinna resolves to kill Silla himself *aria: Nel fortunato istante. Sc 6 Hanging gardens; Silla’s love for Giunia starts to bring out his compassion Sc 7 but Giunia’s hateful face angers him again and he threatens her with death but not to die alone *aria: D’ ogni pieta mi spoglio. Sc 8 Giunia with Cecilio worries about Silla’s words and they part Sc 9 Celia asks Giunia to accept Silla’s proposal for the sake of happiness saying she is also to be married to Cinna *aria: Quando sugl’ arsi campi. Sc 10 Giunia ponders her wretchedness. Sc 11 The Capitol; Silla asks the Senate and the people of Rome to reward him as a hero of Rome with the marriage to Giunia, Sc 12 when Cecilio appears and there is a confrontation *trio: Quell’ orgoglioso sdegno.

Act 3[edit]

Sc 1 entrance to the dungeons; Cecilio has been imprisoned. Cinna and Celia has gained access and Cinna asks Celia to convince Cecilio to repent and forget his love. Cinna promises to marry Celia if she is successful, for which she is hopeful *aria: Strider sento la procella. Sc 2 Whilst Cecilio accepts his fate Cinna tells him not to worry, Silla’s heart over his head will bring about his own downfall *aria: De’ più superbi il core. Sc 3 Silla has allowed Giunia one last visit to Cecilio and they say their farewells *aria: pupille amate. Sc 4 Giunia alone with her thoughts of Cecilio’s impending death thinks of her own *aria: Frà I pensier più funesti di morte. Sc 5 Audience chamber; Before the Senators and the people of Rome, Silla, to everybody’s surprise, declares that he wishes Cecilio to live and marry Giunia. When questioned on his silence, Cinna declares his hatred of Silla and his intention of killing him. Silla issues his ‘punishment’ to Cinna that he should marry his beloved Celia. He further declares that he will step down as dictator and restore liberty to Rome. He explains that he has seen proof that innocence and a virtuous heart is triumphant over power and glory. The people of Rome celebrate liberty and the greatness of Silla.

Noted arias[edit]


  • 1962: Carlo Felice Cillario with Fiorenza Cossotto, Dora Gatta, Rena Gary Falachi, Ferrando Ferrari, Luigi Pontiggia, Anna Maria Rota. Orchestra da camera dell'Angelicum di Milano. (Sarx Records, Cat:SXAM 2019-2)
  • 1985: Sylvain Cambreling with Anthony Rolfe Johnson,Lelia Cuberli, Anne Murray, Christine Barbaux, Arulan, van Baasbank, Chorus and Orchestra of the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels
  • 1991 (recorded 1975): Hager with Arleen Augér, Helen Donath, Edith Mathis, Julia Varady, Werner Krenn and Peter Schreier, Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra (Philips 422 532-2 PME3, 3 CD; reissue for Philips Complete Mozart Edition of recording originally issued on LP by DG)
  • 1991: Nikolaus Harnoncourt with Peter Schreier, Edita Gruberova, Cecilia Bartoli, Dawn Upshaw and Yvonne Kenny, Vienna Concentus Musicus (Teldec 2292-44928-2, 2 CD - score considerably cut including elimination of relatively small role of Aufidio)
  • 2006/7: Netolpil with Roberto Saccà, Annick Massis, Monica Bacelli, Veronica Cangemi, Julia Kleiter, Stefano Ferrari, Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro la Fenice
  • 2008: Fisher with Simone Nold, Jakob Naeslund Madsen, Kristina Hammarström, Susanne Elmark, Henriette Bonde-Hansen, Danish Radio Sinfonietta, Lothar Odinius & Ars Nova


  • Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 0-14-029312-4

External links[edit]