An opera seria in three acts: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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This opera seria was written when Mozart was 14 years old. The style was already old-fashioned (it had been used for more than a century), but Mozart's music, though not comparable to his mature operas, has a freshness, vitality, and spontaneity that transcend the rigid, traditional forms and conventions. The Covent Garden cast sings beautifully, give or take a few pinched high notes (not unusual in a live performance), and the primary question posed by this production is whether or not you can accept the minimal sets and lavishly exotic (vaguely oriental) makeup and costumes. The plot is absurd, but we take that for granted.
Historically, Mithridates was the ruler of a kingdom in the Middle East that was a serious military threat to Rome in the first century B.C.--a fact that has little to do with the plot (two sons struggling for the love of their father's fiancée). Lovely music triumphs over twisted plot and weird visuals. --Joe McLellan
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