Mozart in Italy Festival
The Mozartists, Ian Page
Cadogan Hall, 6-8 March 2020
The Mozartists (and their companions, Classical Opera) continue with their ambitious MOZART 250 project with a weekend exploration of music written by Mozart and others in the year 1770 when he was 14 years old. The project started in 2015 on the anniversary of Mozart’s childhood visit to London and continues with annual explorations of the music that Mozart wrote exactly 250 years earlier, alongside music that Mozart might have heard during the same year. Following their 2015 ‘Mozart in London’ weekend, this weekend focussed on the time Mozart spent in Italy. The Cadogan Hall weekend included three formal concerts together with related talks and performances. There was a focus on different versions of Mitridate, re di Ponto, by Mozart and others, together with extracts from little-known operas by Guglielmi, Piccinni, Mysliveček and Jommelli that Mozart heard in Verona, Milan, Bologna and Naples. Continue reading
Mozart: Mitridate, Re di Ponto
The Royal Opera, Christophe Rousset
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 26 June 2017
By the time he composed Mitridate, Re di Ponto, Mozart has already written 13 symphonies, three operas, four masses, two oratorios, and around 20 sonatas for strings or keyboard. He was just 14. This revival of Graham Vick’s 26 year-old production exposes the extraordinary artifice that was the realm of opera seria, overblowing and exaggerating every aspect of Mozart’s youthful exploration of love and family feuding.
The opera opened with what looked like the aftermath of a nasty accident. It seemed as though Aspasis had crash landed through the top of a vast cloth-covered sideboard, leaving only the upper part of her body visible. It took a while to realise that it was not a sideboard, but her costume – one of a number of vast rectangular tent-like creations of huge width that some of the singers had to contend with for much of the evening. One of several, presumably unintended, audience laughs came when a closing set panels left just enough space for Aspasia to walk through without turning sideways. She later appeared as though sitting behind a large bedecked dinner table, as pictured. Indeed the striking costume design was one of the main features of this production, which included a number of impressively choreograph set-piece dances, at one stage complete with a lot of foot-stomping, stick-banging and skirt-twirling, the whole more in Japanese than Anatolian (or 18th century European) style.