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Mozart - Mitridate, Re Di Ponto (Daniel, Vick) [DVD] [2010]

Bruce Ford (Mitridate) , Jochen Kowalski (Farnace) , Graham Vick (Stage Director) , Paul Daniel (Conductor)    Exempt   DVD

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Product Description

Mitridate, Re di Ponto was performed twenty-one times following its premiere in 1770 and hailed as a success, yet no revival took place until the 20th century. This production from the Royal Opera House was filmed in 1993 during the Mozart Bicentennial Celebrations.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sticky Toffee Pudding 28 Aug 2000
By Anastasia Beaverhausen - Published on
Being a lover of pre-Romantic Opera & all things Baroque, this release of "Mitridate" is manna in the desert for me. The sheer commitment of all involved in this production is enough to convince anyone of Mozart's (and pre-Romantic opera's) possibilities to create a dramatic (& entertaining) work of art.
Expect regal singing from all involved, especially Bruce Ford. He makes Mitridate's music sound as easy as breathing - this stratospheric part (top C following top C) is really the Turandot for (lyric) tenors. Jochen Kowalski puts his honey-like, finely honed counter-tenor to good use as the scheming brother, Farnace. Ann Murray is Ann Murray. Her voice, compared to her earlier excursion of the same part under Harnoncourt, has lost some of its beauty in the upper reaches, yet hers still remain a telling account of Sifare's music. Luba Orgonasova has a few misses as Aspasia, but is still wonderful - I prefer Yvonne Kenny; Arleen Auger; Natalie Dessay in this part. Lillian Watson as Ismene is a treat - even though she sometimes display "harsh" sounds in the upper register. The dramatisation of her first aria is magic (and difficult - she does some fine bangra dancing amidst the torrents of coloratura). The first entrance of Mitridate & his Samurai retinue; the Act one finale & Mitridate's second Act entrance are other moments to look out for. These are only a few of many remarkable moments.
The music will speak for itself. There are admittedly a few weaknesses in the score: much of the music is in a major key, and a fast tempo. This has more to do with the tastes of the time, than the young Mozart. He was expected to write flashy and entertaining music for his singers to show off their talents. In the original production Mozart had three castrati at his disposal. That explains why Sifare and Arbate are sopranos & Farnace an alto. Tenors, baritones and basses are reserved for older characters. For the 18th century audience, youth and virility could only manifest itself as sopranos in the bodies of castrati or female sopranos. Sexual ambiguity is one of the main characteristics of 18th century operas & this fascination is highligthed by the casting of the stunning counter-tenor Jochen Kowalski as Farnace.
Like Handel Mozart managed to strech the conventions, without breaking them. Sifare's farewell, "Lungi da te" - is heart-breaking and equal to any of Mozart's later music - finds Ann Murray unbeatable. Aspasia's extended scena when contemplating suicide is something which side steps "Don Giovanni" straight to Cherubini's "Medea". "Ombre pallide" and "Lungi da te", with its plungent and athletic horn solo must, have shocked the first audience. There are no real ensembles, except for the final (brief) quintett. The (only) duet is sensual and effectively conveys the sadness/unwillingness at the lovers' parting. This duet exists in two ravishing versions. The first one is my favourite, but the second one, which is now commonly used, is of no mean order either. For more mature opere serie from this composer, we will have to wait for "Lucia Silla", "Idomeneo" and "Tito".
The costumes are wonderful & opulent - an intelligent mix of 18th century fashion, mixed with oriental (Japanese) influences. This video makes a very valid case for any Mozart (early) opera. What we need are more singers/conductors/stage designers & directors like those who participated in the creation of this production. They make no excuse for the opera, or its conventions. They allow the music and drama to speak for themselves, without trying to be clever and super imposing their own ideas on the music. Whether you buy this staging or the Ponselle, you will be in for a treat. You may want to know that there are fewer cuts in the Covent Garden version, than the Ponselle & that Ponselle ineffectively uses a boy soprano (!) for Arbate.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soulful Mozart 24 Oct 2004
By S. J McKenna - Published on
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I have a version of this opera on VHS with Gosta Winbergh that blew me away when I saw it. I have been waiting hopefully for its appearance on DVD...but, I gave in and bought this one while I'm waiting. Absolutely excellent. Young Mozart was a soulful 14-year old to be sure. Much of his early-mid music strikes me as a mathematical exercise, with just about that much resonance...but this music is full of honest emotion without excess. Shades of the mature Mozart with no need to give ground for his extreme youth.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A WORK BY A YOUNG GENIUS 18 May 2007
By R. Olsavicky - Published on
Amadeus means "loved by God." Only a genius loved by God could write and orchestrate like this and only be 14 years old. Sure it's the old opera seria style yet Mozart even at 14 expands the boundaries of this convention. I love this opera with this cast. Ford, Murray, Orgonasova and all sing wonderfully. The sets are fair the costumes are ridiculous but, who cares with singing and conducting like this. I'd rather have this then some recent euro trash I've just seen live! Don't miss any of a favorite soprano's (Orgonasova) other recordings. She's GREAT! What a joy it is to have a DVD of one of her performances. The singers and conductor make this work in spite of a weak plot and hysterical costumes.

Don't be afraid to give this a viewing. The performers are great.
15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How about Those Costumes 20 Aug 2001
By "mackiemesser" - Published on
First, the music was written by the 14 year old Mozart and it is pretty good with some neat twists but nothing like what you expect in the more mature works. Vocally, particularly, the arias are very like instrumental concertos with space for a short unaccompanied cadenza. This means they are very difficult. This cast, particularly Aspasia(Organasova), Ismene (Lillian Watson), and Farnace (Jochen Kowalski) execute these with a lot of finesse. Sifare (Anne Murray) and Mitridate (Bruce Ford) are not so agile and tend to become very strident and wobbly in places, especially in loud or high passages. Still, the music is there and well performed. The worst feature of the staging is the costumes which I don't normally notice. All characters have huge wide skirts and the principles usually have wide (2-3') ledges out from their hips. This means the acting is stiff or non-existent and characters essentially must keep separate to prevent collisions. The colors are garish, Glaring reflections are common and Ismene's print is truly hideous. I'm normally tolerant of this sort of thing but even I thought this a serious defect in this production.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous singing! 1 July 2010
By Martin - Published on
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
W. A. Mozart was 14 when he wrote this fantastic opera seria, his first. This opera features splendid virtuoso arias for the principal roles, but only 2 ensemble numbers: the Act II ending duet between Aspasia and Sifare (Se viver non degg'io), and the brief quintet that ends the opera, very characteristic of standard baroque opera seria where the opera ends with a short coro or tutti number.
I really have to say that the tenor Bruce Ford interpreting the role of Mitridate is one of the most beautiful singing that I have ever heard, his voice is like flying through the clouds, his legato and his beautiful sound make his singing of superior elegance. I highly recommend this recording.
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