Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Il sogno di Scipione, K. 126, is a dramatic serenade in one act (azione teatrale) composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a libretto by Pietro Metastasio, which is based on the book Somnium Scipionis by Cicero. Mozart had originally composed the work at the age of 15 for his patron, Prince-Archbishop Sigismund von Schrattenbach. After the bishop’s death before it could be performed, Mozart dedicated it to Schrattenbach's successor, Count Colloredo. It was given a private performance in the Archbishop's Palace in Salzburg on 1 May 1772, although not in its entirety. Only one aria, the final chorus and the recitative dedicating it to the new Prince-Archbishop were performed. It is highly unlikely that it was ever performed in its entirety in Mozart's lifetime.

KV 126 - Il sogno di Scipione
- Sinfonia (0:00)
- Aria (Scipione) Risolver non osa (5:21)
- Aria (Fortuna) Lieve sono al par del vento (12:46)
- Aria (Costanza) Ciglio che al sol si gira (19:34)
- Coro (Tutti) Germe di cento eroi (27:26)
- Aria (Publio) Se vuoi che te raccolgano (29:51)
- Aria (Emilio) Voi colaggiu ridete (37:31)
- Aria (Publio) Quercia annosa su l'erte pendici (45:38)
- Aria (Fortuna) A chi serena io miro (48:50)
- Aria (Costanza) Biancheggia in mar lo scoglio (55:46)
- Aria (Scipione) Di' che se l'arbitra del mondo intero (1:02:37)
- Aria (Licenza) Ah, perchè cercar degg'io (1:09:57)
- Coro (Tutti) Cento volte con lieto sembiante (1:18:22)
- Alternative Aria (Licenza) Ah, perchè cercar degg'io (1:19:44)

 

Roles

Scipione, Scipio Africanus the Younger
Costanza (Constancy)
Fortuna (Fortune)
Publio,
Scipio Africanus the Elder,
Scipio's uncle and adoptive father 

Emilio (Aemilius), Scipio's father
La Licenza 
Chorus: Heroes

Synopsis

Place: North Africa, during the reign of Massinissa, King of Eastern Numidia
Time: 200 B.C.


Fortuna and Constanza approach the sleeping Scipio and offer to accompany him through life. However, first he has to choose between Fortuna, the provider of the world’s good things, and the reliable, trustworthy Constanza.

 

Scipio asks for time to think. Neither in his heart nor mind can he take in what has happened, nor can he choose.

Fortuna and Constanza permit him to ask questions: he wants to know where he is. He fell asleep in the kingdom of Massinissa, but now has no idea of where he is. Fortuna tells him that he is in the Temple of Heaven. The magnificent lights are the stars against the blue background of the universe. He can hear the music of the harmony of the spheres.
 

Scipio asks who creates this harmony. Constanza replies that the power behind it moves the spheres like strings on a zither, finely tuned by hand and ear. Scipio responds by asking why this sound is inaudible to mortals on earth. Constanza explains that this is due to the inadequacy of their senses; looking at the sun, they see only the glare, whilst hearing a waterfall, they know nothing of its destructive power. Scipio then asks who dwells in this eternal world. Fortuna indicates an approaching cortege — heroes, his forefathers, Rome’s greatest sons. Scipio sees the dead Publius and asks if dead heroes live here. Publius assures him that the light of immortality resurrects the body, freeing it from the burden of mortality. He who has thought of, felt for and devoted himself to others will live forever; those who have lived only for themselves are not deserving of immortality. Scipio goes to seek his father. He is delighted to find him, but surprised when it appears that this joy is not mutual. His father Emilio tells him that joy in heaven is complete, because it is not accompanied by suffering; he points to the Earth, small and miserable and covered in cloud, the home of mad misguided people, indifferent to other’s pain.
 

Aghast at the sight of the Earth, Scipio begs his father to be allowed to remain in the eternal land. However, he is told by Publius that he has a great mission to complete on Earth — to destroy an enemy, after making his choice between Constanza and Fortuna.
 

Scipio asks Fortuna what kind of help she can offer him in completing his task. She tells him of her power to destroy and create, to corrupt innocence and empower evil. Who can resist her? Constanza says that only she can bestow the power of loyalty. Fortuna cannot go beyond the limits dictated by Constanza. Virtue can only occasionally be defeated by violence, while evil deeds, unlike good ones, are transient. Fortuna can manage rare strikes, but cannot deprive heroes of hope and faith. Thus Scipio chooses Constanza, braving Fortuna’s anger unafraid, because the eternal kingdom is dearer to his heart.
 

Fortuna, furious, calls plagues down as vengeance on Scipio. He however keeps his courage through a foul storm. He reawakes in the kingdom of Massinissa, feeling the presence of Constanza beside him. The moral behind his dream was a hymn of praise to the eternal virtues offered by heaven, a model for all those who believe in God. In the final scene Licenza praises Scipio’s choice and explains that the real protagonist of the play is not Scipio, but the dedicatee — Prince-Archbishop Hieronymus (Girolamo) Graf von Colloredo.

Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Numantinus (185–129 BC), also known as Scipio Aemilianus or Scipio Africanus Minor (Scipio Africanus the Younger), was a politician of the Roman Republic who served as consul twice, in 147 BC and 134 BC.
 

In 147 BC, he took over the command of the Third Punic War (149–146 BC), besieged, and destroyed Carthage. In 134 BC he took over the Numantine War (143-133 BC), restored the discipline of the Roman army, and defeated Numantia. He was a prominent patron of writers and philosophers.

Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (/ˈskɪpioʊ/; 236–183 BC), also known as Scipio the African, Scipio Africanus-Major, Scipio Africanus the Elder and Scipio the Great, was a Roman general and later consul who is often regarded as one of the greatest generals and military strategists of all time. His main achievements were during the Second Punic War where he is best known for defeating Hannibal at the final battle at Zama in 202 BC, one of the feats that earned him the agnomen Africanus. Prior to this battle (near modern Zama, Tunisia) Scipio also conquered Carthage's holdings in the Iberian peninsula, culminating in the Battle of Ilipa (near Alcalá del Río, Spain) in 206 BC against Hannibal's brother Mago Barca.

Although considered a hero by the general Roman populace, primarily for his contributions in the struggle against the Carthaginians, Scipio was reviled by other patricians of his day. In his later years, he was tried for bribery and treason, unfounded charges that were only meant to discredit him before the public. Disillusioned by the ingratitude of his peers, Scipio left Rome and withdrew from public life.

The Vision of a Knight, also called The Dream of Scipio or Allegory, by Raphael