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Anything for Love: 'La Clemenza di Tito'

Do you remember the popular song "I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)," a 90's hit by Meat Loaf? The song's title, with its love-struck message, could easily sum up the plotline of Mozart's opera La Clemenza di Tito — but only if you get rid of "(But I Won't Do That)."

The opera's lusty story features one character who really will do anything to bolster his love life. The guy's name is Sesto, and he lives in ancient Rome. When the woman he pines for gets dumped by Emperor Tito and wants revenge, Sesto agrees to burn down the entire city of Rome, hoping to roast Tito alive in the process.

La Clemenza di Tito was the last opera Mozart ever composed, and it might be called a "put up job"; it was written to order as a sort of old-fashioned, occasional piece for a preening monarch.

Mozart composed Tito on a commission from the brand new king of Bavaria, who wanted a traditional opera about a benevolent monarch to entertain the minions at his lavish corononation festivities. Still, despite a stodgy libretto that required a time-worn dramatic structure, the music is mature Mozart at its finest, shot through with startling innovations and great beauty.

On World of Opera, host Lisa Simeone presents a production by the Washington National Opera, from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The remarkably strong ensemble cast includes tenor Michael Schade in the title role, mezzo-soprano Marina Domashenko as Sesto and soprano Marina Pavlovskaya as Vitellia.

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