Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mozart's La Clememza de Tito ...

... is much better than I had realized before.  That's a considered judgment, based on the HD of the Met presentation conducted by Harry Bicket.  Granted it's a perfunctory assemblage on a borrowed libretto (did I read somewhere that it had been set 40 times before?).  And everybody knows that opera seria is a pain.

But here's the thing--well, bear with me for a moment, this is going to be a stretch.  Consider Hamlet.  Yes, I know, Hamlet is a much bigger deal than CT. But recall how Hamlet comes about.  It's about midway through Shakespeare's career.  He's tried everything at least once. Now he gives you a kind of summing-up of everything he knows about the theatre.  So Mozart here: he is in the last year of his life. Apparently he was scratching to put food on the table but you also get the sense that he was desperate to show us what he knew while he still had the chance.  They say that old artists paint with fewer and fewer strokes.  Bicket in an intermission issue said something to the effect that Mozart when young would have spent ten minutes telling you something that he gets off in ten bars here.  Concentrated, almost frantically direct and to the point.

Which brings me to a second comparison, even more of a stretch: Verdi, Falstaff.  A last chance to tell you everything he knows.  You have to stay alert and catch your breath, it is all going by so fast.  With the qualification, of course, that Mozart in his testament is just 35 years old, while Verdi in his was over 80.

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