Magazine article Gramophone

Gaigg Resurrects the Young Mozart's Metastasio Project

Magazine article Gramophone

Gaigg Resurrects the Young Mozart's Metastasio Project

Article excerpt

Mozart

Betulia liberata, K118

Marelize Gerber, Ulrike Hofbauer, Barbara Kraus sops

Margot Oitzinger contr Christian Zenker ten Markus

Volpert bar L'Orfeo Baroque Orchestra / Michi Gaigg

Challenge Classics [F] [2] [SACD]-CC72590

023' x DDD/DSD x T/t)

Michi Gaigg's exploration of the azione sacra (sacred drama) Betulia liberata is the latest addition to what is turning out to be something of a purple patch for recordings of early Mozart. Betulia was composed in 1771 for a planned performance in Padua that seems never to have happened; a mooted premiere in Vienna in 1784 failed to come off as well. The story is from the Apocryphal Book of Judith. The Israelites are besieged in the (fictional) city of Bethulia but the widow Judith sneaks out, seduces the enemy general Holofernes and, when he falls asleep, beheads him. Achior, an ally of Holofernes, is horrified when presented with the severed head but ultimately converts to the religion of the Israelites. The libretto being by Metastasio, however, the dramatic action happens outside the city and therefore only in recitative--fans of secco recitative will be in seventh heaven, as there's reams of it. …

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