For whatever blessed reason, Universal has re-released this famous recording of Lucio Silla out of the blue. Unlike the manic alternative from Harnoncourt, it is absolutely complete. Nor is it blighted by the presence of a counter-tenor in the role of Celicio (originally written for the castrato Venanzio Rauzzini, the onlie begetter of Exsultate Jubilate).
K 135 is not the last word in drama - the 'Mills & Boon in togas' libretto is doggerel with apologies to Fido - but the sixteen year old Mozart lavished his stupendous talents on the enterprise. William Mann argues that the Graveyard Scene in Act 1 is the greatest music Mozart had composed thereto - who can argue with him? Lucio Silla is more than a succession of concert arias. Mozart's trademark "finish" is evident in every note. The endless da capo arias can always be shortened with the assistance of the remote-control. In many instances, Mozart up-guns the recitatives with additional accompaniment: they are thrilling.
The array of womenfolk is heavenly: the great Arleen Auger as Guinia, accompanied by the likes of Edith Mathis, Julia Varady and Helen Donath. Peter Schreier and Werner Krenn are less important in the scheme of things: they do not fail the team.
If you want to sample the calibre of this enterprise, listen to Auger in "Dalla sponda tenebrosa" - genius responds to genius.
The recording is rich and deep even if the chorus - accorded a mere three numbers - is a tad opaque.
Capped by stylish playing from the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg under the baton of Leopold Hager, this performance of Lucio Silla commands the field and rightly so. Who has the wherewithal to unhorse it?