Critics, scholars and biographers once damned Mozart's last serious opera (composed almost simultaneously with Die ZauberflOte but performed at Prague three weeks earlier). Few of these estimable commentators had the opportunity or inclination to appreciate the virtues of opera seria. Nowadays it seems that anybody who respects the musico-dramatic merit of operas composed before 1780 will suffer no problems admiring Mozart's finely crafted enlightenment opera. Metastasio's libretto (adapted by Caterino Mazzola) focuses on the poignant dilemmas of three formidable protagonists: the benevolent and well intentioned Emperor Tito, maligned by the hateful Vitellia, whose insatiable thirst for vengeance finds a gullible instrument in her youthfulRead more lover Sesto....
Sir Charles Mackerras completes his slowcooking cycle of Mozart's seven mature operas with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (most of them have been on Telarc but this is his first release for many years on DG). There are few Mozartians of Mackerras's standard: every aria, ensemble, march, chorus and recitative is steeped in absorbing Mozartian rhetoric, colour, personality and style. There are no traces of artificiality or idiosyncrasy. Period brass and timpani lend precision and idiomatic colour, and the modern strings and woodwind are stirring, balanced and lyrical. From the first few minutes of the stirring yet immaculately judged overture, he delivers something special.
Rainer Trost's voice has lost its youthful purity since his memorable Ferrando in John Eliot Gardiner's Cosi fan tutte a little over a decade ago, but the acquisition of darkness and striking authority suits the dignity of his compassionate 'Del pii sublime soglio'. His richly textured coloratura and Mackerras's flowing grandeur are marvellous companions in the opera's jubilant final chorus ('Tu, è ver, m'assolvi, Augusta').
Hillevi Martinpelto's seductive Vitellia makes Sesto's obsession thoroughly convincing: 'Deh, se placer mi vuoi has the perfect synthesis of power, passion and purity (her ornamentation is every bit as courageous as any of Jacobs's singers, but also fits smoothly with the harmony). She magnificently conveys Vitellia's voyage from vulnerability to penitent heroism in 'Ecco ii punto', and follows it with a radiant 'Non pie di fiori' (few sopranos manage to get the audience to end up sympathising with Vitellia to this extent).
However, Magdalena Kozena's Sesto steals the show. She is an outstanding Mozart singer; she sings her heart out in the dynamic accompanied recitative 'Oh Del, che smania e questa' that leads into the quintet at the end of Act 1 (Mackerras and the SCO strings respond with stunning energy), and her arias are consistently marvellous.
Mackerras and Jacobs both provide fresh impetus to the least-regarded opera of Mozart's maturity. If one must choose between them, the veteran pays richer dividends than the maverick.
La clemenza di Tito, K 621by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Performer:
David Watkin (Cello),
Hillevi Martinpelto (Soprano),
Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano),
Christine Rice (Soprano),
Ronald Schneider (Fortepiano),
John Relyea (Bass),
Lisa Milne (Soprano),
Rainer Trost (Tenor)
Sir Charles Mackerras
Scottish Chamber Orchestra,
Scottish Chamber Chorus
Period: Classical Written: 1791; Prague Date of Recording: 08/2005 Venue: Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland Length: 127 Minutes 31 Secs. Language: Italian
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Very Fine PerformanceJanuary 19, 2014By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"Sir Charles MacKerras leads the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and a great cast of Mozartian singers in a thoroughly enjoyable performance of La Clemenza di Tito, a more serious composition in the pantheon of Mozart's masterworks and perhaps not as well known as his great comic singspiel operas. With a story line portraying repeated pardons and acts of forgiveness issued by Roman Emperor Titus in the face of recurring outrages by his inner circle, the recording emphasizes ambient lightness and exquisitely nuanced textures in the singing. The outstanding work of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra merges perfectly with the cast in a steady succession of operatic gems- arias, duos, trios, and recitative, all displaying Mozart's distinctive flair. I found the scale of this recording, using a smaller chamber orchestra, to be totally appropriate, as at no time does the orchestral score overwhelm the singers. I submit that this fine digital recording merits serious consideration, especially if you are interested in exploring some of Mozart's works that may lie slightly outside the mainstream canon of his most famous operatic works. Sir Charles MacKerras, the SCO, and the cast will not disappoint you. Highly recommended."Report Abuse