* This review is part of a series on the 2006 Salzburg Festival, in which the 22 filmed operas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were diversely and, sometimes, radically staged by the most innovative directors working in opera today. The results provoked wildly mixed reactions and controversy, proving that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart remains a vital voice in the world of 21st century music.
Here are two operas composed by a fifteen- year- old Mozart. He composed the first, the dramatic serenade Il sogno di Scipione (The Dream of Scipione), for his patron the Archbishop Colloredo (with whom he later had a famous falling out with). The music is set to Pietro Metastasio’s allegorical libretto. The Roman commander Scopione must choose between Fortune (the goddess of earthly pleasure) and Constancy (the goddess of moral virtue). Unable to make up his mind, Scipione presses questions in a series of existential passages. He discovers he is in the temple of heaven. He moves from the Elysian Fields to Elysium, where he meets the spirits of his father, Aemillius, and grandfather, Pubilius. They advise him that duty is above all and diligence will be rewarded with beautiful dwellings. Skeptical of mere luck, Scipione chooses the virtue of Constancy and invokes Fortune’s wrath, manifested in a great storm. Scopione endures the elements but awakens to find the test was a dream. Licenza praises Scopione for his steadfastness.
Director Michael Sturminger, Blagoj Nacoski as Scipione, Louise Friba as Constancy and Bernarda Bobro as Fortune flesh out the composer’s conflicting priorities in a Buñuel-esque reverie. With Mozart’s later Giovanni, familiarity breeds contempt. Scipione is Giovanni’s alter ego. He finds refuge and passion within Constancy’s joy in repetition. Constancy, coming off, at first, as a June Cleaver type, even has children here, yet she, like Buñuel’s suburban Severine, is also erotically unhinged.
Continue reading M22: THE MOZART OPERAS AT SALZBURG (2006): IL SOGNO DI SCIPIONE & ASCANIO IN ALBA