La clemenza di Tito, Coliseum, London
By Andrew Clark [Financial Times, 8 Feb 05]
“Classy” is not a word we have come to associate with English National Opera in recent years. Populist, perhaps. Attention-seeking, certainly. But with Mozart’s late opera seria, ENO returns to the old-fashioned virtues of ensemble, intelligibility, beauty, truth. They should be obvious, shouldn’t they? But we rarely encounter them in harmony, as we do here in a production directed by David McVicar, conducted by Roland Böer and shared with the Royal Danish Opera.
I have long had a problem with La clemenza di Tito. Its formal design is stiff compared with earlier masterpieces; its music seems to typecast rather than colour the characters. In fact, as McVicar and Böer make clear, its virtues are masked in subtlety. This is an intimate drama of trust, betrayal, forgiveness – qualities that go to the heart of human relationships. Its music has a theatrical charge, a charge that is all the more potent for being corseted within classical lines.
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