In July 1791, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was commissioned to write an opera for the coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia. Court composer Antonio Salieri was first chosen to compose the new work, but believing that there was not enough time to write and adequately rehearse the opera before its Sept. 6 premiere, he claimed to be too busy to accept the commission.
Again financially strapped, Mozart gladly accepted the commission, because his compensation would be twice as much as his normal fee for a commission in Vienna.
In the aftermath of the French Revolution of 1789, it was hoped that the association of Leopold II with the Emperor Titus would carry considerable political clout with neighboring regents and that it would comfort the Hapsburg subjects.
An adaptation of Metastasios 1734 libretto of the same name, La clemenza di Tito portrays Titus as a benevolent and enlightened ruler, and its story suggests the futility of revolution. While the premiere performance received a lukewarm reception from the monarchy in attendance, La clemenza di Tito would soon become Mozarts most famous and most-performed composition over the next 40 years.
The Metropolitan Opera presents a stellar cast of singers in this revival of Jean-Pierre Ponnelles extraordinarily beautiful production. Tenor Giuseppe Filianoti portrays the enlightened Titus, and Elina Garanca assays the troubled conspirator Sesto. Barbara Frittoli stars as the tyrannical Vitellia and soprano Lucy Crowe interprets Annios love interest and Titus betrothed, Servilia. Americans, mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey and bass Oren Gradus, depict the sympathetic roles of Annio and Publio. The Met Orchestra is expertly led by early music specialist Harry Bicket.
La clemenza di Tito
When: 12:55 p.m. Saturday, opera chat begins at 12:30 p.m.
Where: Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Cost: $24 adults, $20 seniors and students