Monday 18 July 2005

Mitridate 1

Sunday afternoon we went off to see Mozart's Mitridate, Re di Ponto at the Royal Opera House in London. It was written when he was just 14 and is a very effective opera seria, giving all of the protagonists some superb virtuoso show pieces and putting each of them into a series of taxing dramatic situations. The drawback is that, being only 14, he never breaks the rules and though the work is effective and has some stunning music, there are longeurs.

This was helped on Sunday by David Vick's stunning production. First seen here in 1991 and revived in 1993, this is its first outing since then. Vick's production is a text book example of how to stage an opera seria with drama and stage interest, taking the form seriously without either sending it up or doing serious violence to the musico-dramatic structure.

The only member of the cast to have appeared in all revivals is tenor Bruce Ford in the title role, all the rest of the cast are new, many relative newcomers to the ROH stage. Ford is still brilliant as Mitridate, but he now negotiates the virtuoso passages with less freedom and flexibility. I will continue tomorrow with a discussion about the remainder of the cast.

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