Perth Festival

17th - 26th May 2018
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Tito mini

La clemenza di Tito by English Touring Opera

Friday 20th May 2011

Perth Theatre, 19:30

This event was part of the 2011 Festival Programme.

Sung in English with full size (26-30 piece) orchestra and chorus


Mozart is often regarded as the greatest composer of opera, and remains popular with audiences today. This is a rare opportunity to see a production of a less well-known Mozart opera, which was his most popular opera for many years. In this production, ETO has restored the opera’s original sung dialogue (recitative).  It is a striking production set in glorious, fiery colours (flame red floor, brass walls). Costumes are from the late 1920s/early 1930s, though the action takes place in a “timeless” world that mixes classical imagery against a bold, chromatic backdrop. It has the feeling of a great epic.


Mozart's La clemenza di Tito - The Mercy of Titus - is one of the composer's final works, and one of his greatest. In the 18th century the great dramatic poet was Metastasio, court dramatist to the Holy Roman Emperors – and this drama, a passionate defence of the enlightenment, was so admired that it was set by over 40 different composers. Its epic story of terrorism, betrayal and forgiveness is set in blazing colours by Mozart, requiring fearless soloists and a very strong chorus. Mozart’s opera condenses the text somewhat but preserves Metastasio’s most dramatic confrontations, and finds moving characters in the generous ruler, his besotted friend, and the fiery woman who comes between them.


ETO favourite Mark Wilde will play the gentle king, Julia Riley his tormented friend, and Gillian Ramm the disinherited princess who sets them against each other. It will be directed by James Conway, and sung in the English translation of Andrew Porter.


Running time: Approximately 2 hours 35 minutes (including a 20 min interval)


Review from The Times

Hilary Finch
March 15 2011 12:01AM
Rated to 4 stars
Anyone not yet convinced that Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito is one of the great operas of all time should immediately book a ticket at one of the 15 venues up and down the country on English Touring Opera’s spring route. James Conway’s production bares the human heart of the opera; and Richard Lewis, conducting, makes it a pacy evening, releasing the true potency of Mozart’s music.
The austere classical setting and form of this opera seria, and its yards of “dry” recitative, made enemies for it for many years. Here the recitatives (not Mozart’s own — he didn’t have time) are substantially pruned and the costumes point away from ancient Rome to the Europe of the 1940s. But all that is neither here nor there. The real hero of this production is Andrew Porter’s fine English translation — and the commitment and skill of the cast in putting it over with passion and total clarity. Every word is heard.
Porter is faithful to the cadences and flavours of the original Italian, yet offers inflections so eloquently fitting to the English language, and to the placing of each voice, that it all sounds the most natural thing in the world.
Add to this a generally strong and well-coached cast, and even the random ugliness of Neil Irish’s set — with its designer opera seriacliché of a huge decapitated statuary head — can be forgiven. The small spaces of ETO’s touring venues bring an intimate intensity to the agonising twists and turns of this opera’s wonderful network of love, friendship, betrayal and forgiveness.
The triangle of Gillian Ramm’s strongly focused Vitellia, her soprano flaring with jealousy, Julia Riley’s ardent if a little vocally unstable Sesto, and Mark Wilde’s outstanding Tito is compelling drawn. The final anguished showdown between Tito and Sesto, and the sobriety of the shamed Vitellia’s Non più di fiori (No bridal garlands), with rose petals drifting out of her packed linen, is superbly done. Rhona McKail’s Servilia and Charlotte Stephenson’s Annio provide an emotionally engaging cross-current in the ever compelling ebb and flow of human relationships.

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