La Clemenza di Tito: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1791)

Mozart: Clemenza di Tito

★★★★

(Salzburg Festival 2003; Wiener Philharmoniker conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt)

For my first opera DVD of the new year, I decided it was time to make the acquaintance of Mozart’s Clemenza. This is one of the most popular and frequently filmed operas out there and it can be hard to know where to start; but fortunately there was help on hand in the form of Dehggial, who writes the knowledgeable and deliciously irreverent blog Opera, innit. Dehggial has a particular fondness for Clemenza and recommended this production from the 2003 Salzburg Festival. It’s a rather austere, dark take on the opera with some splendid singing and powerful acting. It was only after buying it that I realised it had been designed by none other than Martin Kušej, which meant there were some interesting links with motifs from the Royal Opera House’s recent Idomeneo.

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Idomeneo: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1780)

Mozart: Idomeneo

★★★

(Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 3-24 November 2014)

The one with the shark

There’s something rather exciting about going to see a production which has divided opinion as starkly as this new staging of Mozart’s Idomeneo. There has been at least one one-star review and one five-star review, but most critics seem to come down somewhere in the middle, struggling in a sea of interesting ideas which never quite come together. I sympathise with them. There were certain things I liked very much and some things I found self-indulgent and silly, but my overall impression was that it was a mixture of promising concepts which lacked the Promethean spark to bring them to life.

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