to the composer’s note on the score, Tito
Manlio was written in five days. Vivaldi had just taken up the post of Maestro di Cappella da Camera in the
Duchy of Mantua. As a result of taking the wrong side in the War of the Spanish
Succession, Mantua was now governed by Prince Philip of Hesse-Darmstadt.
Vivaldi was responsible only for secular music while still enjoying the status
of Maestro di Cappella. His time in
Mantua [1718-1720] matches in some ways Bach’s time at Cöthen [1717-1723],
where his responsibilities were also primarily secular.
Tito Manlio was written
under extreme pressure as Prince Philip had suddenly announced at Christmas
1718 his impending marriage to the Duke of Tuscany’s widow three weeks later.
This demanded a new opera rather than a new production of one of his Venetian
operas. Ironically with all preparations for the wedding in place, the prospective
bride turned round and returned to Florence and it is far from clear when the
new opera had its premiere.
off-stage drama is matched by the on-stage heroics with warring states,
conflicted lovers and embattled father and son. In Combatta un gentil cor one of the warring parties feels honour
bound to defend his erstwhile opponent from wrongful imprisonment. In a
spectacular aria, soprano and trumpet trade high notes in a dramatic