Saturday, 26 December 2015


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Young Mozart was only sixteen when he completed
Lucio Silla. It received a fair amount of success,
however his opera 'seria', "Mitridate, re di Ponto
which had also premiered in the same Teatro Regio 
Ducal two years earlier, when Mozart was only 
fourteen, was a ravishing triumph for the pubescent 
composer with an impressive twenty one stagings
and continues to see far more modern productions 

than the seldom-staged Lucio Silla.
In keeping with the Month of Mozart theme on
and in celebration of Coloratura diva Edita Gruberová's 69th birthday this past week, I have selected as aria of the month "Ah se il crudel periglio" from Mozart's early opera "Lucio Silla" that first premiered in Milan at the Teatro Regio Ducal exactly 243 years ago today on December 26, 1772.

While Mozart's opera seria Mitridate, re di Ponto had premiered to greater success, also on this 26th day of December, and also at the Teatro Regio Ducal just two years prior to Lucio Silla, this bel-canto styled treatise on the fickle heart and iron fist of Roman Dictator Lucius Cornelius "Sulla" (or "Silla") Felix (c. 138 - 78BC), featured stratospherically acrobatic coloratura arias for soprano that would make Mozart's later infamously trill-infused aria for soprano Martern Aller Arten from his opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail look and feel like a walk in the park (and if you are familiar with the piece, that is no mean feat!)

Lucius Sulla ( or "Lucio Silla" [it.] )
In this video's scene (at the beginning of the second act), we hear the character of Giunia, daughter of the murdered Roman hero Gaius Marius and unrequited love interest of dictator "Silla" beg Cinna, the close friend of her inammorata Cecilio (an exiled senator) for protection from the murderous tyranny of the spurned and jealous Silla. Giunia was at a loss as to how to eliminate the romantic protestations of the obsessively enamored dictator and remain loyal in heart to her beloved Cecilio. She had already learned from Cinna of Silla's instance on a marital union between them, in spite of how she felt. Cinna suggests as a solution a devious coup: marry the persistent ruler, and then murder him from the privacy of their wedding bed. Giunia, not wanting to upset the gods, refuses, and appeals to Cinna for his protection instead.

In this video, one can hear the desperation, fear, and justifiable rage of the despaired Giunia through the remarkably agile vocal prowess of "Queen of Bel-Canto" Edita Gruberová:

and just for fun, Gruberová's rendition of "Martern Aller Arten" from Mozart's
Die Entführung aus dem Serail which first premiered in July of 1782 in Vienna:

For more articles on this month's birthday girl, click HERE.

To peruse the Month of Mozart articles, and for more features on other composers, conductors, musicians and related artists of the world of Classical Music and Opera, check out the links, images and lists on the right side panel. (the Month of Mozart posts can be found in the December archives).


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