Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mozart: Mitridate, Re di Ponto – M22 (Part 2: I Can See Clearly Now)

At 14, Mozart had neither the clout nor the maturity yet to write the character-specific music of his later music dramas.  He was required to write pretty, flashy music so the singers could show off. However, many of the arias in Mitridate are quite expressive.  “So," you ask, “Speaking of the arias, how is the singing?”
One might expect the smooth light voice of Bejun Mehta to be overshadowed by all the soprano/tenor brightness, but it's not. His acting skills and agile voice characterize Farnace’s journey from snottiness to maturity. His final aria, much of it sung almost sotto voce, is heartbreaking.
Blindfolded, Farnace finally sees the light.
Netta Or (Aspasia) doesn’t seem ready for her first aria, but once she warms up, she displays some major skillful coloratura and a bright, clear voice. Ingela Bohin (Ismene) doesn’t have as much to sing as the other royalty, but her crisp, clear soprano conveys her character’s gentleness and reason. This is my first exposure to these sopranos, and I hope to hear a lot more from them.
The two most minor characters each lost their lone aria in this edition. I was glad in the case of the countertenor, Pascal Bertin (Arbate), whom I found difficult to listen to in the recitatives; but I would like to have heard Colin Lee’s strong tenor in Marzio’s act 3 aria.
One of the standout singers here is Richard Croft* as Mitridate. Mr. Croft’s voice is powerful, angry, strong, fluid, and in the few moments of quiet, breathtaking.  He is not afraid to sacrifice a bit of musicality in the name of drama. He fairly barks out some of his most angry statements (actually most of his statements are angry!), and floats out the tones of his dying recitative.
Mitridate forgives his sons, then dies.
The other standout is the sublime Miah Persson as Sifare.  You name the emotion, she expresses it: anger, tenderness, sadness, etc. And she sings it all with clarity, smoothness, and elegance. Here is a reminder of her moving rendition of Lungi da te mio bene. 

The only duet. It's worth the wait.

Marc  Minkowski indicates in the “making of” video that he was reluctant to conduct this opera. Not to worry, he and Le Musiciens du Louvre – Grenoble support and guide the drama with verve and delicate energy.
I like this disc a lot, and I highly recommend it. All five principals convey their characters well through their singing and acting. I keep returning to this performance for the intriguing visuals and for the high musical values—particularly for Minkowski’s leadership and the outstanding vocals of Ms. Persson and Mr. Croft
* Mr. Croft mentions in the bonus video that he was very nervous about taking on this role. Though he clearly needn’t have been, one can see why he was.   


  1. I should watch this - the only Mitridate I've seen on DVD is an older one from the ROH. And I'll listen to Miah Persson sing just about anything - I've enjoyed her voice every time I've heard her. (I'm listening to the third video, of the duet, while I write this comment - it's encouraging me to keep writing so I can keep listening . . .)

  2. Miah Persson is a singing goddess!! And I am starting to think that Richard Croft is a god. I continue to be amazed by his voice and his art. I think you will enjoy this production, and I look forward to finding out what you think about it. (don't forget to go back and listen to "lungi da te")

    Oh, and Miah Persson has recorded a whole disc of Mozart arias:


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