Magazine article Musical Opinion

Lucio Silla at the Shaftesbury

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Lucio Silla at the Shaftesbury

Article excerpt

On 25 February I went to London's Shaftesbury Theatre to see Lucio Silla, which tells a complex story of emotional and political wheeler-dealing around the person of the Roman Dictator Lucius Sulla, , who ends the work by ordaining general marital happiness for those who have spent the opera scheming against him.

The similarity with La Clemenza di Tito is obvious. Both fall into the category of opera seria, a form in which the central, regularly historical, figures were idealised with the worthy intention of providing role models for contemporary audiences and indeed rulers. Compared to Tito, however, Lucio Silla is a relatively immature work, though still containing much that is musically worthwhile.

Composed for the Regio Ducal Teatro, which later became La Scala, in Milan in 1772, when Mozart was sixteen, it was the last opera he wrote for Italy and probably the most ambitious. Milan audiences, then as now, could rely on the leading Italian singers of the day and Mozart consequently had a top-notch cast at his disposal. As such, Lucio Silla was a bold repertoire choice for Opera for Europe, the touring company of the new European Opera Centre. Based in Manchester, this is an advanced training programme for singers and other young artists that draws on the help and advice of major companies in the UK, Denmark, Spain, Italy and France. This, their first staged production, receivied a UK and Ireland tour, to mark the British Presidency of the European Union.

Given the works nature, the high standards of musicianship and vocalism displayed by these young singers did them, and the European Opera Centre, enormous credit. …

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