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.
"La clemenza di Tito at Salzburg Festival — unforced diversity and a new sound for Mozart"
Financial Times about La clemenza di Tito (2017)
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. 'The first step towards a true Mozart opera,' says Peter Sellars, 'was to get rid of the recitatives'. Here and there he and musical director Teodor Currentzis put excerpts from Mozart's compositions back. The score is adapted with Mozart's Adagio and fugue in c minor KV 546, the Maurerian Trauermusik KV 477 and the 'Kyrie' from Mis in c. Teodor Currentzis: 'Everything we add to the music here, we do with the greatest respect and with the greatest possible love towards the composer'.
A forgiving ruler
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.
About this production
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 MusicAeterna - that recently received the Opera Award for Best Chorus 2018 ! - plays an important role in La clemenza di Tito as ‘the people’.
PETER SELLARS (director) is a renowned American theatre and opera director. He is known mainly for his unique modern stagings of classic and contemporary works, including Don Giovanni (situated in Harlem, New York), Le nozze di Figaro (in a luxurious apartment in Trump Tower) and Handel’s Orlando (in space).
Teodor CurrentzisMusical director
TEODOR CURRENTZIS (musical director) was born in Greece and raised in Russia, where he studied orchestra conducting at the state conservatory of St Petersburg. Currentzis is artistic director of Perm State Opera and Ballet Theatre, artistic director and founder of the orchestra MusicAeterna and its associated choir, and from the 2018-2019 season principal conductor of the SWR Symphonieorchester.
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.
Team, Cast and Chorus
- Musical director
- Teodor Currentzis
- Stage director
- Peter Sellars
- George Tsypin
- Robby Duiveman
- James F. Ingalls
- Antonio Cuenca Ruiz
- Rehearsal director
- Vitaly Polonsky
- Tito Vespasiano
- Russell Thomas
- Ekaterina Scherbachenko
- Janai Brugger
- Paula Murrihy
- Jeanine De Bique
- Sir Willard White
- Soloist quartet
- Janai Brugger
Jeanine De Bique
‘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.’