Wolfgang A. Mozart • Il re pastore
Serenata in two acts, K. 208
Text by Pietro Metastasio (1698–1782)
In Italian with German and English surtitles
End approx. 22.30
Print programme (PDF)
With Il re pastore one of the lesser-known Mozart operas has been programmed, which, however, deserves as much admiration as any other work by Mozart. William Christie performs it with the Orchestra La Scintilla of the Zurich Opera, where it was staged in the summer of 2011. It was not least the outstanding performance of Rolando Villazón as Alexander the Great which convinced us that you should not miss this jewel.
At the age of nineteen Wolfgang Amadé Mozart was not lacking in self-confidence. In 1775, when he received the commission to compose an opera for the visit by Archduke Maximilian Franz to Salzburg, he set a libretto by Pietro Metastasio to music that had previously been given a musical setting by the most famous composers of the epoch. Nevertheless, there was no reason for the music that was heard on 23 April 1775 in the archiepiscopal palace (Residenz) in Salzburg to shy comparison with Christoph Willibald Gluck, Johann Adolf Hasse, Baldassare Galuppi or Niccolò Jommelli.
The libretto by Pietro Metastasio was based on a historical occurrence: in the year 332 B.C., on his campaign against King Darius III of Persia, Alexander the Great conquered the city state of Sidon, and appointed the unrecognised living relative of an old indigenous princely family as the new king. In Metastasio’s text these reported events occur in a secluded pastoral idyll which thus suddenly becomes the scene of world affairs. The shepherd Aminta has no idea about his origins and together with his beloved Elisa, who is of noble birth, he longs for the fulfilment of their happiness in love. Alexander’s intervention, however, endangers their bond…