Dutch National Opera presents
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A FORGIVING RULER
In his production of Mozart’s opera La clemenza di Tito, Peter Sellars shows a society that rises and falls, which he links to recent events in Paris and Brussels.
La clemenza di Tito is the only opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart being performed by Dutch National Opera this season. The opera was commissioned for a special occasion and was written under great pressure of time and in difficult private circumstances. Nevertheless, the music is of a high quality and there are plenty of interesting contextual elements in La clemenza di Tito.
in the press
"La clemenza di Tito at Salzburg Festival — unforced diversity and a new sound for Mozart"
Financial Times about La clemenza di Tito (2017)
The coronation ceremony of Emperor Leopold II on becoming King of Bohemia in Prague (1791) could not do without a festive opera. Mozart was commissioned to write a royal opera seria, a favourite genre with the emperor. The idea of a forgiving ruler corresponded to his enlightened character. In this sense, the historical protagonist Titus in La clemenza di Tito is certainly a much more positive character than his counterpart Heliogabalus in Cavalli's Eliogabalo, earlier this season.
Team, Cast and Chorus
- Musical director
- Teodor Currentzis
- Stage director
- Peter Sellars
- George Tsypin
- Robby Duiveman
- James Ingalls
- Rehearsal director
- Tito Vespasiano
- Russell Thomas
- Ekaterina Scherbachenko
- Janai Brugger
- Paula Murrihy
- Jeanine De Bique
- Sir Willard White
In La clemenza di Tito, director Peter Sellars makes a link between Tito’s end and that of Mozart. In his concept, Tito has been wounded and is dying, and his assailants are not strangers, but people he knows. Mozart himself was seriously ill and only had a few months to live. Furthermore, his wife Konstanze was having an affair with his pupil Franz Xaver Sussmayr, who wrote the recitatives for Clemenza. Extensive cuts are made to these recitatives, whereas other music by Mozart is added at crucial moments.
George Tsypin’s sets for La clemenza di Tito show a ruined city, a new city with glass offices and several pillars that create light patterns, turning the scenery into the source of light.
Conductor Teodor Currentzis is the music director of the Opera and Ballet Theatre in Perm. With his ensemble MusicAeterna, he is renowned for temperamental yet sensitive performances. In the words of Peter Sellars: ‘... powerful, genuinely dramatic, poetic, heart-felt and real’.
Teodor Currentzis and his ensemble MusicAeterna are making their debut with Dutch National Opera, as are the soloists. Sir Willard White (Publio) has been a guest in Amsterdam many times before.
The Chorus of Dutch National Opera plays an important role in La clemenza di Tito as ‘the people’.
The orchestra of MusicAeterna, from the Opera and Ballet Theatre in Perm, is regarded as one of the most innovative ensembles specialising in authentic performance practices. After its foundation in 2004 by Teodor Currentzis, the ensemble rapidly gained recognition in Russia and abroad. MusicAeterna’s repertoire reaches beyond the borders of early music. The ensemble plays works from various periods, including music of the 20th century and works by living composers. MusicAeterna will be guesting for the first time with Dutch National Opera, in La clemenza di Tito.
‘Sellars makes his moral vision even stronger through his casting. In an essay included in the program, he compares Leopold II to Nelson Mandela, who, on assuming power in South Africa, forgave those who wished him dead. The African-American tenor Russell Thomas sings Tito, and he is surrounded by nonwhite artists: [...]. This inversion puts the drama in a fresh light and advances Sellars’s long-term campaign against systemic racism in classical music.’
‘Die Produktion von Peter Sellars trifft ebenfalls einen Nerv der Zeit und bringt die Flüchtlingsproblematik sowie den Terror unserer Gegenwart auf die Bühne. Hochpolitisch und mit überaus philosophischen Zwischentönen zeigt Sellars die Probleme von Rassentrennung, Fremdenhass und menschlichem Mitleid auf, wobei es ihm gelingt, dabei nicht allzu pathetisch zu werden. Sellars ruft mit seiner Inszenierung zu mehr Menschlichkeit und einem Miteinander auf, um Terror und Hass keinen Nährboden zu geben.’
‘Sellars, as always, sets out with consummate sincerity and solid stagecraft to convey a highly spiritual message.’