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Default Mozart - Mithridata (Haim 2016 Paris) DVD (Opera)

Mozart - Mithridata (Haim 2016 Paris) DVD (Opera)
Release: 2016
VOB | MPEG2 4502Kbps | 1920x800 23.98fps | AC3 Stereo | 2h 52mn | 12.11 GB
Genre: Music Video | Classical
MITRIDATE, RE DI PONTO was written in 1770 by the fourteen-year-old Mozart for his first tour of Italy. The prodigy stuck rigidly to the opera seria form, and Mitridate's string of da capoarias is varied only by a wonderful duet and a brief final ensemble. What points to the composer's great future is the keen sense of characterization, along with the age-defying depth of emotion in the best of the arias. The new production at the Théâtre des Champs Élysées was directed by Clément Hervieu-Léger of the Comédie-Française, with Emmanuelle Haïm conducting her ensemble, the Concert d'Astrée.

Hervieu-Léger, who has an impressive classical-theater background, may have been inspired to draw the opera toward its French theatrical origins; the libretto was based on a play by Racine. But though the achievement of the teenage composer is extraordinary, nothing in the libretto, apart from the story line, suggests the verbal grandeur of Racine's tragedy Mithridate (1673). The unchanging set of a disaffected eighteenth-century theater was attractive, but the work needs more spectacle to hold the public's interest through its three hours of music. Despite the efforts of the cast, who played out the drama with physical commitment, this production longed for Racine and failed to address the coded formality of the opera seria story of of Mitridate, King of Pontus; his fiancée, Aspasia; and his two sons, Sifare and Farnace.

Haïm began the evening with her usual frenetic energy in an aggressive overture, the dull thud of the timpani drums clearly placing the opera in the Baroque tradition with too little Classical poise. The strings of the Concert d'Astrée never matched the excellent work of the woodwind and brass sections. Fortunately, the conductor relaxed as the evening progressed and allowed the music to breathe, although some of the ornamentation remained of questionable taste.

Mitridate endures as a celebration of great singing. The young composer was inspired by the vocal virtuosity he discovered in Italy. The title role, especially, abounds in huge intervals from the lowest to the highest range of the tenor voice. Michael Spyres did as well as humanly possible and lent an appropriate nobility to his character, who anticipates the protagonist of La Clemenza di Tito, but he never sounded entirely comfortable with the technical challenges of the role. Soprano Sabine Devieilhe provided breathtaking virtuosity as the Parthian princess Ismene; her perfectly placed pyrotechnics brought a shiver of excitement to the evening. Despite glorious dynamic control above the staff, the young soprano lacks a convincing trill, which in Mozart's and Haïm's final cadenzas was an evening-long problem for most of the cast.

Soprano Patricia Petibon was on her best vocal behavior as Aspasia, without indulging in too many willful expressive nudges, and brought dramatic truth to the role. Her singing of "Pallid'ombre," one of the most profoundly moving arias in the score, was a performance of time-stopping beauty. Mitridate's two sons were sung by soprano Myrtò Papatanasiu (Sifare) and countertenor Christophe Dumaux (Farnace). Papatanasiu has a creamy soprano, especially at the top of her range, but she suffered from cloudy Italian diction, while Dumaux brought his treacherous sibling to life with firmly voiced coloratura. Soprano Jaël Azzaretti was a delightful Arbate. The promising young tenor Cyrille Dubois confronted the technical challenges of Marzio's aria with surprising virtuosity. - Stephen J. Mudge

Le Concert d'Astrée, Emmanuelle Haïm (Conductor)
Clément Hervieu-Léger (Stage Direction)
Frédérique Plain (Dramaturgy), Eric Ruf (Sets), Caroline de Vivaise (Costumes), Bertrand Couderc (Lihgting)

Michael Spyres (Mitridate)
Patricia Petibon (Aspasia)
Myrtò Papatanasiu (Sifare)
Christophe Dumaux (Farnace)
Sabine Devieilhe (Ismene)
Cyrille Dubois (Marzio)
Jaël Azzaretti (Arbate)

Recorded at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris on February 20th 2016

DVD video PAL, Widescreen
Runtime: 172 min
Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian
Audio: AC-3 5.1 448 48kHz and mp2 2.0 384-48kHz
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