Mitridate, Re di Ponto
Musical Re-Production, Co-Production with Théâtre de la Monnaie Bruxelles
During his first trip to Italy the 14-year-old Mozart was commissioned to write an opera seria. The subject chosen was the story of the megalomaniac and paranoid King Mithridate VI. who had once forced the Romans to fight three wars. Mozart had five months to write the work. Ten days before the premiere a rumour was going round that such a young boy, and a German one into the bargain, could never write an Italian opera, since he did not have the “chiaro ed oscuro necessary for theatre”. However, following the first rehearsals the sceptics were silenced and the premiere in the Teatro Regio Ducale in Milan was a sensational success.
News reaches the town of Ninfea that Mitridate has been killed fighting the Romans. His two sons Sifare and Farnace, political rivals, now compete to win the favour of Aspasia, their father’s betrothed. But Mitridate unexpectedly returns: it was he who had spread the rumour of his own death to test the loyalty of his sons. After intrigues, alleged betrayal, thoughts of vengeance and another battle against the Romans Mitridate recognises his sons’ political loyalty and forgives them. However, he is now a broken man and, in his despair, falls on his own sword. With his dying breath he unites the two lovers Sifare and Aspasia.
Mozart, utterly captivated by everything relating to dramatic virtuosity, set the jealousy, betrayal, desire, fear of old age and love of power to music with great gusto, depth and perceptiveness. For the “garrulous tongues” of the singing stars he composed a series of technically demanding and passionate arias.