Trust­ing in Mozart with sen­si­tiv­ity and ex­u­ber­ance

Berta Jon­cus ap­plauds this su­perb per­for­mance of Clemenza di Tito con­ducted by Yan­nick Nézet-séguin

BBC Music Magazine - - Opera -

Mozart

Rolando Vil­lazón, Joyce Didonato, Ma­rina Re­beka, Reg­ula Müh­le­mann, Tara Er­raught, Adam Pla­chetka; RIAS Kam­mer­chor; Cham­ber Orches­tra of Europe/ Yan­nick Nézet-séguin DG 483 5210 140:10 mins (2 discs) Since 2011, tenor Rolando Vil­lazón has ar­ranged for fel­low singers to join him each sum­mer for a Mozart opera in con­cert con­ducted by Yan­nick Nézet-séguin. Be­sides as­sem­bling stars, the project gives Vil­lazón a chance to sing a Mozart role out­side his vo­cal type. Last sum­mer’s project was a Clemenza di Tito pro­duc­tion whose risk-tak­ing paid off.

The ac­tion of Clemenza, de­vised to cel­e­brate the Em­peror Leopold II’S as­cen­sion, mil­i­tates against au­di­ence em­pa­thy: the am­bi­tious Vitel­lia plots to marry Ro­man Em­peror Tito but, dis­cov­er­ing his de­sire for an­other, per­suades Sesto, her suitor and Tito’s friend, to try to mur­der him. Af­ter sev­eral twists, Tito for­gives them both. Mozart dresses the opera’s scarcely cred­i­ble nar­ra­tive scaf­fold with mu­sic that grabs us and doesn’t let go. Joyce Didonato (Sesto) makes the most of this, her tur­moil over­whelm­ing us in its depth, re­fine­ment and con­stant shifts. Apart from her gor­geous voice, Didonato pos­sesses a grace per­fect for the role, soar­ing to ex­pres­sive heights in her fi­nal six-minute aria. Ma­rina Re­beka (Vitel­lia) is Didonato’s ideal vo­cal and dra­matic foil: with her slightly metal­lic tim­bre, she al­ters tem­pos and hurls for­tis­si­mos, bring­ing Vitel­lia’s im­pe­ri­ous­ness to life. Vil­lazón is dig­ni­fied and pas­sion­ate in his ti­tle role, but over-sings his cli­mac­tic ‘Se all’im­pero am­ici dei’, smear­ing its runs.

What’s spe­cial about this Clemenza is Yan­nick Nézet-séguin’s trust in Mozart’s lyri­cism, heard for in­stance in the huge space he gives the soloists for their ten­der numbers. The con­duc­tor has cre­ated a pro­duc­tion that’s as sen­si­tive as it is ex­u­ber­ant. PER­FOR­MANCE RECORD­ING

Joyce Didonato in her fi­nal aria soars to ex­pres­sive heights

Com­pelling drama: Joyce Didonato duets with Rolando Vil­lazón

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