Mozart Unloved

Mozart in an unfinished portrait by his brother in law, Josef Lange, circa 1790(Photo: Wikapedia)
Mozart in an unfinished portrait by his brother in law, Josef Lange, circa 1790(Photo: Wikapedia)

Mozart’s final opera, La clemenza di Tito is the next live in HD presentation by the Metropolitan Opera.

The matinee Saturday, December 1 will be sent live to movie theaters all over the world in real-time. This is the fourth HD presentation this season, and December is a busy month. Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera with a controversial new staging by David Alden follows on December 8, and Aida, in a sumptuous, traditional production on December 15.

Mozart Unloved? Le clemenza di Tito is a morality tale set in ancient Rome, at the court of Emperor Titus. A plot to take his life is uncovered and the emperor magnanimously forgives all. Hence, the Clemency of Titus.

Mozart didn’t really want to write this opera. He was racing against time to finish The Magic Flute and the Requiem. Both of these were lucrative commissions, and Mozart was always short of pfennings.

An offer to create a new opera for the Emperor Leopold’s coronation of as Holy Roman Emperor. Mozart, accompanied by his amanuensis Schickanader, set out for Bohemia and a month later the opera took stage. Mozart conducted the premiere on September 6, 1791, three months before his death.

The Met brings us Jean-Pierre Ponelle’s superb staging, first seen in 1984. I’m grateful Tito wasn’t treated to a new production. God knows Emperor Titus would be in tennis shorts and Sesto on a motorcycle, with Vitellia as a dominatrix, accompanied by ladies with whips. Don’t laugh. It’s been done.

La clemenza di Tito is worth knowing better. Nobody does rage like Mozart, or thwarted assassination, or love (of course!) or even forgiveness.

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