To mark the 225th anniversary of “Don Giovanni,” the Metropolitan Opera is showcasing three Mozart operas including a revival of “La Clemenza di Tito,” which opened Nov. 16.
The performance featured a star-studded cast with Elina Garanca, Giuseppe Filianoti, Kate Lindsey, Barbara Frittoli, Lucy Crowe and led by acclaimed early music specialist Harry Bicket. The other Mozart operas are “Le Nozze di Figaro,” which took place in October and “Don Giovanni” scheduled to premiere Nov. 28.
Dating from 1792, “La Clemenza di Tito” is an opera in which the Roman emperor Tito struggles to forgive his friend Sesto for attempting to assassinate him. The conflict began when Princess Vitellia manipulated a love-struck Sesto into plotting to kill the emperor because she misread Tito’s affections. The work is a serious opera, meant to glorify the nobility. Yet, as mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca stated in an interview in the Met’s “Playbill,” Mozart is “just nerve and emotion and soul-breaking,” referring to a long scene between Sesto and Tito. “It’s very expressive and really gets down to your guts,” she said.
The performance was greeted enthusiastically by the audience. They even laughed at Vitellia’s self-absorbed antics. In the opera’s original context, no one would laugh at Vitellia, as she was conceived as an example of how nobility should not behave. The light-hearted reaction illustrated how Mozart’s operas have adapted over the centuries.
Eduardo Mas, a visitor from Spain, said he thought the opera was “marvelous.” Though Mas admitted that this was his first opera, he said he enjoyed Mozart’s music, especially “Rondo alla Turca,” which he played on the piano as a child.
Local musician Meryl Sacks said, “I like both Mozart’s comic and serious operas,” no matter what the tone. She said that operas like “Don Giovanni” are “complex and carry a lot of messages” and described Mozart’s music as “close to perfection.”