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Mozart’s Lucio Silla as a Musical Herald of the 2013 Festival Summer

24 JAN 2013

published in: Opera

Lucio Silla, Main Orchestra Stage Rehearsal, Rolando Villazón and Eva Liebau (Photo: Matthias Baus)
In the protagonist of their first joint opera, Lucio Silla, Wolfgang A. Mozart and the librettist Giovanni de Gamerra portrayed one of the most contradictory figures in history, the perhaps most widely hated consul of the late Roman Republic, Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (138-78 BC). However, neither Gamerra nor Mozart was interested in historical fact, as their free adaptation of the story shows. Even in this early work, the focus is on the protagonists’ psyche; the minimal but constant changes made throughout the apparently endless repetitions of the same text within an aria are traces which Mozart lays out, inviting the audience to study these protagonists more closely.

One of the mysteries surrounding the work of the youthful genius is the question how a 16-year-old was able to capture and portray Silla’s ambivalent feelings: he is torn between the political career that has forged his personality and his private longing, expressed in his futile struggle for Giunia’s love. Matthias Schulz, director of the Mozarteum Foundation, said in an interview with Die Furche: “Mozart wrote Lucio Silla at the age of 16 – outstanding music that shows how artistically mature Mozart was at such an early age. It was important to us to find an approach for Lucio Silla that would transport historic performance practice – which functions so well in the field of music – to the staging. Marshall Pynkoski is the stage director; he has studied historic theatrical performance extensively and his background is in dance.” Thus, the new production boasts a reading that is new to Salzburg, appearing in the baroque guise of the time of its writing, but reflecting “today’s” people in the experiences and feelings of the protagonists. As in the musical interpretation, the old and the new form a unique symbiosis on stage.

Marc Minkowski will conduct “his” orchestra, the Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble. The sets were designed by Antoine Fontaine, who has also designed sets and costumes for films like Vatel with Gérard Depardieu and Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola. Rolando Villazón sings the title role.

The co-production with the Mozarteum Foundation Salzburg has its premiere today, January 24, as part of the Mozart Week; it will be presented at the Salzburg Festival from July 27, 2013 onwards. Click here for further performance dates.