Mozart - Il Sogno di Scipione (2007) [DVD9 NTSC]


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Mozart - Il Sogno di Scipione (2007) [DVD9 NTSC]


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Mozart - Il Sogno di Scipione (2007) [DVD9 NTSC]

Video: 16:9 NTSC
Audio: PCM Stereo, DTS 5.1
Subtitles: Italian(originalk language), English, German, French, Spanish
# Actors: Blagoj Nacoski, Louise Fribo, Bernarda Bobro, Iain Paton, Anna Kovalko
# Directors: Robin Ticciati, Michael Sturminger
# Number of discs: 1
# Rated: NR (Not Rated)
# Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
# DVD Release Date: February 13, 2007
# Run Time: 109 minutes

Il sogno di Scipione, K. 126, is a dramatic serenade in one act (azione teatrale) composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a libretto by Pietro Metastasio, which is based on the book Somnium Scipionis by Cicero.

Mozart had originally composed the work at the age of 15 for his patron, Prince-Archbishop Sigismund von Schrattenbach. After the bishopís death before it could be performed, Mozart dedicated it to Schrattenbach's successor, Count Colloredo. It was given a private performance in the Archbishop's Palace in Salzburg on 1 May 1772, although not in its entirety. Only one aria, the final chorus and the recitative dedicating it to the new Prince-Archbishop were performed. It is highly unlikely that it was ever performed in its entirety in Mozart's lifetime. In 1979, Il sogno di Scipione was exhumed for Mozart Week in Salzburg, and given a complete performance.

Judith Weir's 1991 chamber opera, Scipioís Dream, is based on Il sogno di Scipione with an adaptation of the original Metastasio libretto and a re-composition of the score.[

If this opera had ever attracted me before, I would give this production a one or two star rating. As much as I hate to admit it, this is the first time I enjoyed it.

Scipio (Blagoj Nacoski) has a dream that two goddesses are competing for his attention. He must choose between Constancy (Louise Fribo) and Fortune (Bernarda Bobro). He ponders the relative merits of a conservative but rational existence, vs a risky exciting one. Had the libretto allowed Mozart to do something more interesting with this story, the opera would have possibilities as an existential argument. As it is, we have what amounts to a series of arias, some of which are very beautiful, but not much more that is interesting, in my opinion. The arias are long and very difficult. I ponder whether "stand and deliver" singing is the only way for singers to conserve enough energy to get through this opera in good voice.

In this staging the two women are mortals competing for Scipio's body and this gets very graphic as Constancy fakes a sexual act while singing the most difficult aria in the opera. There is dressing and undressing, giving us an underware display, but no obvious nudity. Had Fribo been allowed to underplay the sex, she might have sung better. Nacoski starts out strong, as does Fribo, but also runs out of gas in his final aria. He has less excuse, as he is not doing as much while he is singing.

Only Malin Hartelius, on a discontinued CD, pulls off a great Constancy, her supporting cast however was not up to the challenge. She got great reviews so I am not alone in thinking that she got it right. The difference between Fribo and Hartelius is not just a few notes, it is huge. That said, I would like to hear all the singers on this DVD again singing something that makes reasonable demands, they have good voices and techical skills. It is too bad they did not get a more favorable exposure on DVD.

The conductor Robin Ticciati is the real star here, at 23 he has a great Mozart style. Once again the value of M22, to me, is the exposure so many musicians are getting.


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