Wonderful performances and dramatisations make this Mitridate well worth watching
Mitridate Re Di Ponto mayn't be one of my favourite Mozarts, although the music is gorgeous some of the libretto is static. As with all Mozart opera though, it is well worth hearing or seeing at least once. This 1993 production is excellent especially on the musical and dramatic front. It is for me not quite perfect, I personally found the quality of the costumes uneven, some are striking and regal but others are garishly coloured and over-sized. The sets though are very opulent, and the video directing does nothing to detract from that. Graham Vick's stage direction is very witty- with the dancing- and compelling especially in the Act 1 finale and Mitridate's second act entrance. It does lack the intimacy of the Ponnelle production but is more spontaneous.
On a musical front, the performance is outstanding. The orchestral playing is stylish and beautiful, allowing the music and drama to flow and speak for themselves with no incongruous ideas. The horn obbligato in Lunge Da Tei is wonderfully played. The conducting is assured and subtle, which is always an ideal approach for Mozart. The performances are on the most part on the money. Bruce Ford manages to make the fiendishly difficult role of Mitridate seem easy, with spot on high notes and great style. Dramatically he is very moving and refined. Ann Murray is not as fresh in voice as in Ponnelle's production, with a top that sounds strident at times, but her Sifare is very deeply felt and loyal. Jochen Kowalski is a superb Farnace, scheming yet affecting with a flexible counter-tenor voice. Luba Orgonasova struggles at times with the colouratura the role of Aspacia requires, but her overall performance is one of lyrical pathos. Jacquelyne Fugelle is solid as Arbate, while Lillian Watson's Ismene is bitter and poignant.
All in all, an excellent production. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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