[NEWS: Based on the advice of health officials, it was recently announced that the Metropolitan Opera’s entire 2020-21 season has been cancelled. Read more about this difficult decision, and, on a brighter note, discover the newly-revealed 2021-22 season.]
Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius. (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart).
Week 29 brings us a delightful feast of Mozart operas that, within comedic pranks, politics, magic, and seduction, sing of love and its manifestation in all kinds of shapes and manners. The nightly stream starts at 7:30 p.m. on the Met’s homepage and can be accessed for 22 hours. Please click on the title of each opera below for more information and the link to the full synopsis. To discover even more about the operas featured this week, check out the weekly guide along with articles, interviews, videos, podcasts, and educational resources.
After his crafty schemes to help Count Almaviva win his Rosina in The Barber of Seville, it is time for Figaro to tie the knot! And for the Count to stop straying and remember how much he loves his wife. The sequel to The Barber of Seville, this opera is based on the play La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro (The Crazy Day or the Marriage of Figaro) by Pierre Beaumarchais—available on Amazon—a play initially banned in Vienna for its representation of class structure and its abuses. Heavenly, comedic, tender, and moving, Mozart’s music with Lorenzo Da Ponte’s lyrical libretto have created what many consider the greatest opera ever composed.
Tuesday, September 29
Mozart’s Così fan tutte – Starring Susanna Phillips, Isabel Leonard, Danielle de Niese, Matthew Polenzani, Rodion Pogossov, and Maurizio Muraro, conducted by James Levine. From April 26, 2014.
One of Mozart’s most entertaining operas returns. “Così fan tutte” means “so do they all”—and “they all” refers to women. A hilarious comedy about gender stereotypes, and women’s fidelity in love. The libretto was written by the great Lorenzo Da Ponte with whom Mozart also collaborated on Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro. In the story Mozart and Da Ponte used the idea of “fiancée swapping,” a 13th-century theme that is also found in Boccaccio’s Decameron and Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. This opera is a sparkling and exquisite Mozartian gem with memorable arias, ensembles, orchestration, and overall musical delight.
Wednesday, September 30
Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito – Starring Lucy Crowe, Barbara Frittoli, El?na Garan?a, Kate Lindsey, Giuseppe Filianoti, and Oren Gradus, conducted by Harry Bicket. From December 1, 2012.
This opera had a political agenda: it premiered a few hours after the coronation of Leopold II as the King of Bohemia to celebrate the event and to alleviate post-French Revolution internal political and social conflicts. The story of the magnanimous Roman emperor Tito had been set to music in several operatic adaptations before Mozart took it on. For a long time, this final opera of Mozart’s was criticized as inferior to his other works. In recent years, renewed interest and relevant directorial concepts have brought it back into the mainstream repertoire.
Thursday, October 1
Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte – Starring Golda Schultz, Kathryn Lewek, Charles Castronovo, Markus Werba, Christian Van Horn, and René Pape, conducted by James Levine. From October 14, 2017.
A love story with unforgettable music, and fantastical, comedic and philosophical elements, this opera is known as a “Singspiel” (the literal translation from German is “sing-play”); it includes both singing and spoken dialogue. This Met production by Julie Taymor is especially fun and imaginative. In honor of Mozart’s 250th anniversary year an English-language film version of the opera directed by Kenneth Branagh was released in 2006.
Friday, October 2
Mozart’s Don Giovanni – Starring Marina Rebeka, Barbara Frittoli, Mojca Erdmann, Ramón Vargas, Mariusz Kwiecie?, Luca Pisaroni, and Štefan Kocán, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From October 29, 2011.
The Don Juan myth has stimulated the imagination of countless playwrights, poets, musicians, philosophers, and filmmakers since the first written version of his story in the early 17th century, the play El burlador de Sevilla y el convivado de piedra (The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest) by Tirso de Molina. The name Don Juan has entered the mainstream as a generic expression for a womanizer. For an endearing spin on the story watch the film Don Juan DeMarco, starring Johnny Depp as a mental patient convinced that he is the real Don Juan.
We return to The Marriage of Figaro with an iconic production from 1998.
Considered Mozart’s greatest choral opera, Idomeneo is based on the French libretto by Antoine Danchet for an earlier operatic adaptation by André Campra. The opera tells the story of the King of Crete, Idomeneo, whose life is saved by the sea god Neptune at the terrible price of having to sacrifice the first creature he encounters—which turns out to be his son, Idamante. While he composed it in the Baroque tradition, Mozart introduced musical innovations, even interfering with his librettist’s text to increase the overall dramatic effect.
Top Bigstock Photo: Mozart Statue – Salzburg City in Austria.