A tyrant redeemed by love
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–91)
Sung in Italian with English side-titles
About the show
Dramma per musica in three acts, K135
Libretto by Giovanni de Gamerra
In a secluded grove, the banished Roman senator Cecilio secretly meets his friend Cinna, who tells him the tyrant Lucio Silla has declared Cecilio dead in order to marry Cecilio’s fiancée, Giunia. However Cinna advises that the couple may meet when Cecilio pays homage at the tomb of her dead father.
Lucio Silla asks Giunia’s sister, Celia for her help in winning Giunia’s hand – she advises subtlety and kindness. However, Giunia rejects the man who deposed her father and exiled her lover. Silla attempts to win her over, but ultimately, rejected by her, decides to behave like a tyrant.
Cecilo waits at the tomb. He joins Giunia and her fellow mourners, who at first believe him a ghost.
Silla’s friend Aufidio advises him to marry Giunia to get her supporters on his side. Silla decides to marry Giunia on the same day as Celia marries Cinna. Cecilio sets out to attack Silla, but is restrained by Cinna, who himself plots with Giunia that she marry Silla and murder him on their wedding night. She refuses, and Cinna resolves to kill Silla himself.
Silla’s love for Giunia softens his tyrant’s instincts, but Giunia’s hate again angers him and he threatens her with death if she refuses him. Cecilio and Giunia resolve to kill Silla or die trying. Celia asks Giunia to marry Silla for their mutual happiness, but Giunia would rather kill herself.
Silla asks the Senate and the people of Rome to reward him with marriage to Giunia. Cecilio attacks Silla but is restrained.
In prison, Cecilio is approached by Cinna and Celia who try to convince him to give up Giunia. Giunia is granted one last visit to her love, and both consider their impending deaths.
Before the Senators and the people of Rome, Silla declares he has been won over by innocence, love and virtue. He pardons Cecilio and wishes him to marry Giunia, and announces he will step down as dictator and restore liberty to Rome. The people of Rome rejoice.