Theme and Variations

Thoughts and experiences of exploring classical, jazz, and other art music.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Mozart's Mitridate, Re Di Ponto

The following was submitted today to Yahoo's Opera Study group (with some modification in the post)

One of the neat things about this group is that, as we follow each month's focus, we get exposed to operas that we might otherwise not see. I know this has been true for me. For each composer, I search through the DVD opera offerings in the Netflix service. Some I like (and sometimes actually purchase), and some I don't. If I don't like a production, I don't feel like I've spent too much money, just time. Either way, I pop the DVD back in the mail, Netflix pops the top DVD off my queue, and it arrives in my mailbox. It turns out that the nearest Netflix mailing facility is in White River Junction (about a 80-90 minute drive away), so DVD's are turned around pretty quickly.

(I don't work for Netflix and receive nothing from them I don't pay for, so I'm carrying on about them because I'm a very satisfied customer. Since the available opera recordings and videos at my library are few in number, Netflix does the trick.)

So this afternoon, I watched Mitridate, Re Di Ponto. This was written when Mozart was 14, during a trip through Italy. According to Charles Osborne, Mozart was given the commission to set the opera by the city of Milan (or some ruler thereof? I need to go back and read that part again). This was in 1769. Apparently the libretto had been set at least once previously, in 1767.

The production I saw was produced by the London Royal Opera House in 1991, as part of a Mozart Bicentennial Celebration (that would make it 200 years after his death, but I guess you get your bicentennials where you can). The DVD shows the parts and players during the opening overture. The sets were pretty simple, a lot of red lighting, with various centerpieces brought up through the stage floor. This included a small torch flush with the floor in the middle of the stage, which appeared as the opera opened. With the flowing cloth of the players, I began to have this morbid fascination about whether one or more of the players would have their costume catch on fire.

While I'm on the subject of costumes...I haven't seen a lot of theater productions of any type, so take the following with a grain of salt...these were the most outlandish, garish, and just plain ugly costumes I have ever seen anywhere. Mitridate and his sons wore shiny chrome armor over flowing tunics and...well, there's no other way to describe them...skirts under which it appeared they were trying to hide bongos, or some sort of drum, on each hip. But the most ridiculous of the bunch were Aspasia's outfits. These were drop bodice dresses, and it looked like, under her skirt, she was trying to hide a full bed mattress. While the other players were able, on occasion, to shed their bongos, poor Aspasia had to drag around that mattress, even kneeling on the floor now and then, and then getting up. It looked painful.

And then there were Mitridates' guards, who first appeared wearing Chinese (?) masks and weilding swords. The masks had a red cloth toungue hanging out of the mask. At the end of Mitridates entrance aria (and it was really, really good, sung by Bruce Ford), each of the half-dozen or so guards pulled on these tongues, and then commenced to pull foot after foot of cloth out of the mouth, as I'm sure we've all seen clowns and magicians do.

All the players had a lot of makeup, with their faces painted white and their lips painted black, as well as various features around the eyes. I'm wondering if this was the practice in Mozart's day.

The opera has a smarmy, slimy villain in Farnace, who has designs on his father's throne, as well as his father's main squeeze. Farnace has also been collaborating with the Romans, who are trying to unseat Mitridates. The king discovers the machinations of his son, and tosses him into the dungeon. Just before being taken into custody, he reveals that the "good" son, Sifari, has also carried on with Aspasia, who has returned the favor. This gets both sons in hot water. However, before Mitridates can execute anyone, the Roman rout his troops and lay seige to the city. Sifari goes to fight by his father's side. But, the Romans win the day, and release Farnace from the dungeon, with a promise he can have the throne and the babe both if he chooses. The Romans leave, and Farnace has this big change of heart, for which he needs a rather lengthy aria to explain.

In the finale, Mitridates, rather than submit to the Romans, has fatally stabbed himself. Before he dies, Farnace and Sifari beg their father's forgiveness, which he grants before dropping dead. Thus ends the opera.

The work takes nearly three hours to complete, and while I enjoyed a few of the arias, I found myself wondering how much longer there was until the end. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I watched it, as it provides an opportunity to compare Mozart's early work with his later work. I felt there were too many parts for castrati, but I guess that was the style of the day. Osborne indicates that Mozart did not write any of the arias until he had met the players, so the arias were written for specific singers. This, too, I've learned through Greenberg was a common practice, at least for Mozart.


Blogger oakleyses said...

longchamp outlet online, true religion, ray ban sunglasses, polo ralph lauren, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton outlet online, red bottom shoes, burberry outlet online, michael kors outlet, nike air max, kate spade handbags, louis vuitton handbags, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, oakley sunglasses, jordan shoes, longchamp handbags, ray ban outlet, prada outlet, coach outlet, christian louboutin, louis vuitton outlet, gucci handbags, coach outlet, oakley vault, cheap oakley sunglasses, chanel handbags, nike free, tory burch outlet, nike shoes, coach outlet store online, burberry outlet online, polo ralph lauren outlet, christian louboutin shoes, true religion outlet, coach purses, michael kors outlet store, kate spade outlet online, prada handbags, longchamp outlet, nike air max, louis vuitton, tiffany jewelry, tiffany and co jewelry, christian louboutin outlet

2:06 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

sac vanessa bruno, nike free, michael kors canada, timberland, michael kors uk, air max, nike air force, air jordan, true religion jeans, ray ban pas cher, louis vuitton pas cher, louis vuitton uk, nike air max, sac michael kors, abercrombie and fitch, lacoste pas cher, nike roshe run, ray ban uk, true religion outlet, longchamp, oakley pas cher, nike roshe, mulberry, new balance pas cher, north face pas cher, converse pas cher, hollister, tn pas cher, north face, lululemon, nike blazer pas cher, barbour, ralph lauren, hermes pas cher, nike air max, hollister, sac louis vuitton, chaussure louboutin, nike free pas cher, burberry pas cher, guess pas cher, longchamp pas cher, louis vuitton, scarpe hogan, vans pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher, air max pas cher

2:09 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

chi flat iron, mac cosmetics, soccer shoes, jimmy choo shoes, birkin bag, rolex watches, ferragamo shoes, canada goose, vans outlet, instyler ionic styler, uggs outlet, canada goose outlet, soccer jerseys, north face jackets, babyliss pro, wedding dresses, p90x workout, giuseppe zanotti, mcm handbags, ugg outlet, asics shoes, celine handbags, ghd, nike huarache, bottega veneta, insanity workout, abercrombie and fitch, herve leger, ugg boots, nike trainers, ugg soldes, marc jacobs outlet, beats headphones, hollister, mont blanc pens, reebok shoes, canada goose outlet, lululemon outlet, valentino shoes, longchamp, north face outlet, nfl jerseys, new balance outlet, roshe run, ugg, canada goose outlet, uggs on sale

2:13 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

baseball bats, nike air max, ray ban, parajumpers outlet, toms outlet, timberland shoes, converse shoes, replica watches, moncler, hollister, lancel, moncler, juicy couture outlet, moncler, links of london uk, wedding dress, louis vuitton canada, ugg, vans, moncler, pandora charms, canada goose uk, louboutin, canada goose, oakley, juicy couture outlet, hollister canada, pandora jewelry, moncler outlet, iphone 6 case, ralph lauren, canada goose pas cher, pandora uk, coach outlet, moncler, montre femme, converse, swarovski uk, uggs canada, supra shoes, hollister clothing, karen millen, swarovski jewelry, thomas sabo uk, canada goose, air max, gucci, moncler

2:15 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

2015-10-10 zhengjx
Louis Vuitton Handbags Outlet On Sale
michael kors handbags
cheap jordans
ugg australia
cheap nfl jerseys
Lebron 12,11,10 Shoes For Sale
Louis Vuitton Outlet 100% Authentic
ugg boots
Louis Vuitton Handbags Outlet Stores Online
canada goose outlet
coach outlet
michael kors outlet
Louis Vuitton Handbags Outlet Sale
michael kors outlet sale
Coach Factory Outlet Online Sale Discount
canada goose outlet
michael kors outlet online
cheap louis vuitton
Coach Outlet Store Online Clearance
Michael Kors Outlet Online Sale Free Shipping
coach outlet store online
ugg boots
nike outlet,nike shoes,nike store,nike air max,nike free run,air max,nike free,nike blazers
Louis Vuitton Outlet Discount Handbags
cheap ugg boots
hermes birkin
ugg boots
Coach Factory Outlet Discount Online
true religion jeans
nike air max

6:48 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home