A week of four operas came to a close last night with Mozart’s final opera La Clemenza di Tito. This is a a delve into the Roman world, which gladly had received an update in setting from people wandering around in togas!
I had read a number of reviews of this work before we went, most praising the performances and music but derising the setting, so I was ready to experience the opera with little attention on the set. However at the end of the first half, we were in agreement with the performances but also very impressed by the set. The clever use of a turntable with a screen and projections we thought very clever, and the scene of Rome burning was excellent. I do wonder at those prefering a ‘traditional’ performance and how relevant a Roman setting would seem now-a-days. This allowed so much more into the drama – often seeing those not in the scene to give reactions on the other side of the screen.
As usual in my reviews, the synopsis from the Opera North web site:
La clemenza di Tito is a tale of sexual obsession and divided loyalties, set in Ancient Rome. The powerful, alluring Vitellia has designs on the Emperor Tito, and is provoked to fury when he opts to marry someone else. She fans the flames of rebellion, and demands his assassination at the hands of her doting lover Sesto, Tito’s trusted confidant. Torn between loyalty to his friend and emperor and his fascination with the hypnotic Vitellia, Sesto makes a choice that tests Tito’s forgiving nature to breaking point.
Composed for the coronation celebrations of the new Emperor of Bohemia, La clemenza was famously described by Mozart as his ‘true opera’ due to its noble subject and its rich, varied music. Mozart received the commission for Tito when he was already underway with The Magic Flute, and both works’ stirring melodies, colourful ensembles and unforgettable choruses share the directness and simplicity typical of his late style.
Listening to any Mozart is naturally a treat, especially so when the piece is new as Tito is rarely heard or performed. It is a work of maturity – if that can be said for one so young in writing it – and the direction of the orchestra was puposeful and relevant to all the sections. The leads were excellent, in particular AnneMarie Kremer as Vitellia who we saw in the title role of Norma. Unfortunately Helen Lapaalan who was to play Sesto was indisposed so was replaced, but her replacement, Louise Innes was superb.
It’s a pity that is it now for opera until May – oh hum! We really have been treated by Opera North so far this year.
Photo credit from the Opera North web site.