Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mozart - La Clemenza di Tito – Rene Jacobs, Freiburger Barockorchester







Mozart's opera about an emperor with a heart of gold and the plotters who betray him ends with reconciliation and forgiveness. Along the way we meet characters who include a good man tortured by his conscience, a vindictive seductress, a selfless heroine, and sundry others, all in a work in which Mozart reverts to the old opera seria style. That means lots of long recitatives which, together with a credulity-straining plot, resulted in many condemning the opera to the second tier of Mozart's works. But when given in a performance of such volatile vitality and superb singing, it commands our attention. The music certainly is top-drawer Mozart, thanks to Jacobs's incisive conducting, the period orchestra's lively playing, and a cast of singers who handle difficult coloratura with ease and offer persuasive portrayals.

Bernarda Fink Pendatchanska is thrilling as the evil pivot of the plot, singing with exciting abandon, while Fink (as her foil who betrays his friend for her love) is on the same level, singing with ardor and tossing off coloratura runs without breaking a sweat. Mark Padmore in the title role sings with his usual honeyed tenor and makes Tito a believable character, which takes some doing. What sets this recording apart from other worthy ones, such as those by Colin Davis, Charles Mackarras, and John Eliot Gardiner, is its dramatic thrust. Stock figures become believable, their dilemmas and self-doubts become interesting, their music revealing and impactful. By far the best version of the opera, it should be heard by all Mozartians. -- Dan Davis  

Performer:  Mark Padmore,  Sunhae Im,  Bernarda FinkAlexandrina Pendatchanska,  Marie-Claude Chappuis, Sergio Foresti
Conductor:  René Jacobs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus,  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra


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