Tuesday 22 January 2013

Mozart's castrati

Venanzio Rauzzini for whom
Mozart wrote Exsultate, Jubilate
The castrato voice is not a voice type that we particularly associated with Mozart, partly because his trio of mature operas with Da Ponte do not feature the voice. By the later 18th century the voice type was less popular in opera and mainly used in more old-fashioned opera seria. Mozart and Da Ponte's comedies developed a style of opera popularised by Galuppi and Goldoni, which mixed serious aristocrats with popular servants. There was less room here for the castrato voice, but also the use of tenor and bass voices in heroic roles was becoming more common. But still, Mozart wrote for quite a few castratos, and tonight (January 22 2013), the Classical Opera Company are giving you the opportunity to find out more at the concert at Wigmore Hall.

Soprano Sarah Fox makes a welcome return to the company alongside acclaimed Croatian mezzo soprano Renata Pokupić in a dynamic selection of arias including Dolce d’amor compagna from La finta giardiniera, Il padre adorato from Idomeneo and Deh per questo istante solo from La clemenza di Tito, as well as the concert aria A questo seno… Or che il ciel and the famous Exsultate, Jubilate.

Mozart wrote the role of Idamante in Idomeneo for a soprano castrato, but when preparing the work for a performance in Vienna in the 1780's Mozart converted the role to a tenor. But he was still not averse to the castrato voice. La Clemenza di Tito which premiered in 1791 included the role of Sesto, written for a castrato though the role of Annio was taken by a female mezzo-soprano.

The programme also includes music from Mozart's Lucia Silla, where the lead role was sung by castrato Venanzio Rauzzini, for whom Mozart wrote the Exusltate, Jubilate. Rauzzini was also a famous teacher and his pupils included Nancy Storace, who created Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Michael Kelly, who created Don Curzio and Don Basilio in the same opera.

See Classical Opera's website for more details, booking on-line at the Wigmore Hall website.

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