Musica di Antonio Vivaldi (1719)
Trascrizione del libretto: Carlo Vitali, 1996
Fonti collazionate per la trascrizione:
TRONCONE, imperatore della Cina tenore TEUZZONE, suo figlio soprano ZIDIANA, sposa ma non moglie di Troncone alto ZELINDA, principessa tartara alto CINO, governatore del regno soprano SIVENIO, generale del regno basso EGARO, capitano delle guardie alto ARGONTE, principe tartaro tenore CORO di soldati, guardie e popoloL'azione si svolge nella capitale dell'Impero della Cina, in epoca imprecisata
Dying as a victor on the battlefield, the emperor Troncone leaves his son Teuzzone as inheritor to the throne. But Troncone's young widow, Zidiana, rather than renounce her sovereign power, considers remarrying Teuzzone himself, for whom she bears a secret passion dating to before her marriage. Meanwhile, she continues to lead on with false promises two former suitors, the general Sivenio and the prime minister Cino, in order to take advantage of their assistance in her ascendance to power. These two men, however, devise a coup d'état of their own: by falsifying Troncone's will, they will be able to exclude Teuzzone, who mistrusts them, from the succession, and Cino will ascend to the throne as Zidiana's husband. The mastermind behind this plot is Sivenio, who in truth hopes later to take the place of his colleague/rival once Teuzzone, the primary obstacle to both men, has been eliminated.
In the cemetery, where the funeral procession for the departed sovereign is about to arrive, Teuzzone and his fiancée Zelinda, a Tartar princess, renew their vows of love and fidelity. As soon as he has been officially declared emperor, Teuzzone will marry her. Meanwhile, however, she hides herself nearby in order to watch the events. After the ceremony, Cino and Sivenio disclose their plans to Zidiana, and she in turn pretends to concur. Troncone's false testament is read before the people assembled. Zidiana takes the throne and everyone swears allegiance to her, with the exception of Teuzzone, who publicly denounces the deception and departs, threatening vengeance. Zidiana orders the guards to arrest him and put him to death, but Zelinda rises to his defence, invoking her own position as priestess to the high God Amida. Zidiana backs down and, after having taken appropriate steps to strengthen her power, orders that the prince be followed in order to prevent any hostile manoeuvres. She secretly promises her love to both Cino and Sivenio in exchange for their political support. Later though, in a private conversation with Zelinda, Zidiana implores her to act as an intermediary with Teuzzone: the empress does not, in fact, desire his death, but rather hopes to put him on the throne at her side. The princess, though understandably upset by this news, conceals her own jealousy.
Teuzzone incites his soldiers to battle and comforts Zelinda, who fears for the outcome of this unfair fight. And indeed, despite his acts of valor, Teuzzone is defeated and taken prisoner. Cino and Sivenio would like to have him immediately put to death, but Zidiana insists that he first be brought to trial. Before the courtly judges who accuse him of treason, Teuzzone responds with indignation and invokes his birthright, but he is found guilty as expected and is imprisoned to await execution. Pressured in opposite directions by Zelinda and Sivenio, Zidiana hesitates to sign Teuzzone's death warrant. She finally decides to put off the execution while summoning the condemned man to a last meeting, at which Zelinda will be secretly present. Teuzzone, disdainful of his awaiting fate, rejects the amorous advances which his young step-mother now openly makes. Finally, aware of Zelinda's presence, he is unable to hide his own feelings for her, thus increasing the jealous wrath of Zidiana. Nonetheless, the prince remains indifferent and is taken back to prison, claiming that he would rather die than succumb to blackmail. At this point, the empress, whose pride is wounded, is prepared to sign Teuzzone's death warrant when Zelinda, in a last desperate attempt to save him, offers to give him up and even to persuade him to marry Zidiana. Surprised by such abnegation, Zidiana agrees to another postponement of the execution and begins once again to hope.
Cino, although suffering some remorse for his actions, is now confident of the proximity of Teuzzone's death and his own royal wedding with Zidiana, but his reverie is cut short by Zelinda, who apprises him of Sivenio's deception. The latter arrives at this very moment, and the two ex-accomplices immediately engage in a furious duel. At the sound of arms, Zidiana rushes in and attempts to calm the two rivals with a surprising proposal: since the rulers of the Celestial Empire have always been allowed more than one wife, she too will indulge in this royal prerogative by taking them both as her husbands. Cino, confused and bitter, is too weak to react, but the more astute Sivenio pretends to adhere willingly to this solution, while continuing to act freely. His true goal is, in fact, absolute power, and to this end he declares himself willing to override any moral obstacles, including his loyalty to the memory of Troncone, his long friendship with Cino, and even his love for Zidiana if necessary.
In his dark underground prison, Teuzzone refuses Zelinda's entreaties and Zidiana's last offers, choosing death instead. Believing that she was betrayed by Zelinda, the empress condemns her to share Teuzzone's fate: both will be slain as human sacrifices during the solemn rite of spring which commemorates the creation of the world. But at the apex of the ceremony, when all preparations for the executions have been completed, Cino intervenes. Pretending to want to pronounce the death sentence himself, he instead reads to the people and the army assembled there Troncone's true testament. At this point the general Argonte, Tartar prince and friend to Zelinda, enters with his troops and arrests the traitors. The generous Teuzzone, having recovered the throne, pardons everyone (except the unrepentant Sivenio, who is instead sentenced to life in prison), and offers to Zelinda his hand in marriage, amidst the jubilation of his subjects.
Synopsis by Carlo Vitali (translation: Candace Smith)