ⓘ Mitridate, re di Ponto

                                     

ⓘ Mitridate, re di Ponto

Mitridate, re di Ponto, K. 87, is an early opera seria in three acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The libretto is by Vittorio Amedeo Cigna-Santi, after Giuseppe Parinis Italian translation of Jean Racines play Mithridate.

Mozart wrote Mitridate while touring Italy in 1770. The musicologist Daniel E. Freeman has recently demonstrated that it was composed with close reference to the opera La Nitteti by Josef Myslivecek. The latter was the opera being prepared for production in Bologna when Mozart met Myslivecek for the first time with his father in March 1770. Myslivecek visited the Mozarts frequently in Bologna during the summer of 1770 while Wolfgang was working on Mitridate. Mozart gained expertise in composition from his older friend and also incorporated some of his musical motives into his own operatic setting. The opera was first performed at the Teatro Regio Ducal, Milan, on 26 December 1770 at the Milan Carnival. It was a success, having been performed twenty-one times despite doubts because of Mozarts extreme youth – he was 14 at the time. No revival took place until the 20th century. This opera features virtuoso arias for the principal roles, but only two ensemble numbers: the act 2 ending duet between Aspasia and Sifare "Se viver non degg’io", and the brief quintet that ends the opera, very characteristic of standard baroque opera seria where the opera ends with a short coro or tutti number.

                                     

1.1. Synopsis Prologue

Mitridate, having suffered a heavy defeat in battle, is presumed dead. This false news is passed by Arbate, the Governor, to Aspasia Mitridates fiancee and to Farnace and Sifare Mitridates sons.

                                     

1.2. Synopsis Act 1

Scene 1

Arbate, the governor of Nymphæum, welcomes Sifare. We learn that Sifare resents his brother, Farnace, because of his brother’s strong ties with their enemies, the Romans. Arbate pledges his loyalty to Sifare. Aspasia pleads for Sifare to help her against advances by Farnace. He accepts her plea and reveals his love for her.

Scene 2

Farnace makes his advances to Aspasia. She refuses, supported by Sifare, who protects her from his forceful brother. News arrives that Mitridate is alive and is approaching the city. Arbate urges the brothers to conceal their differences and greet their father. The brothers agree to hide their feelings for Aspasia. Farnace conspires with Marzio, Roman legionary officer, against Mitridate.

Scene 3

Mitridate arrives on the shores of Nymphæaum with Princess Ismene, daughter of his ally the King of Parthia. Mitridate wants Farnace to marry Ismene, his promised bride. Ismene is in love with Farnace but senses problems and is worried about her future. Arbate tells Mitridate that Farnace is pursuing Aspasia, not mentioning Sifare. The jealous Mitridate swears revenge on Farnace.

                                     

1.3. Synopsis Act 2

Scene 1

Farnace scorns and threatens Ismene. She tells Mitridate, who suggests that she should marry Sifare. Mitridate asks Aspasia for immediate marriage but she hesitates, proving to him that she is unfaithful. Aspasia confesses love to Sifare but they both agree to part to save their honour. Sifare plans to leave and Aspasia is troubled by the conflict between love and duty.

Scene 2

Mitridate is aware of Farnaces plot against him with the Romans; he plans his revenge, despite Marzio’s offer of peace, and arrests Farnace to execute him. Ismene rescues the prince, who admits his treachery but implicates Sifare. Mitridate tricks Aspasia into admitting her love for Sifare and swears revenge. Aspasia and Sifare wish to die together, in fear of Mitridate’s threats.

                                     

1.4. Synopsis Act 3

Scene 1

Ismene, still in love with Farnace, tries to convince Mitridate to forgive Aspasia. The Romans attack and Mitridate leaves for battle. Aspasia contemplates suicide by poison. Sifare also wants to die, and joins his father in the battle.

Scene 2

Marzio liberates Farnace and promises him the rule of Nymphæum. Farnace changes his mind, deciding to side with Mitridate.

Scene 3

Defeated, Mitridate commits suicide, avoiding captivity. Before he dies he gives his blessing to Sifare and Aspasia and forgives Farnace, who now agrees to marry Ismene. All four pledge to free the world from Rome.

                                     

2. Noted arias

In 1901, Charles Malherbe located previously uncatalogued works of Mozart, including a soprano aria from the opera Mitridate, re di Ponto, written at age 14. It was performed that year in Paris by Camille Fourrier.

                                     

3. Recordings

  • 1986: Jean-Pierre Ponnelle 1986 film, Nikolaus Harnoncourt/Gosta Winbergh, Yvonne Kenny, Ann Murray DVD
  • 2006: Salzburg Festival, Marc Minkowski/Richard Croft, Bejun Mehta, Miah Persson DVD
  • 1999: Christophe Rousset/Giuseppe Sabbatini, Brian Asawa, Cecilia Bartoli, Natalie Dessay CD
  • 1993: Royal Opera House, Paul Daniel/Bruce Ford, Jochen Kowalski, Ann Murray, Luba Orgonasova DVD
  • 1997 Salzburg Mozart Week, Roger Norrington/Bruce Ford, Vesselina Kasarova, Cyndia Sieden, Christiane Oelze CD
  • 1986: Opera de Lyon Jean-Claude Fall, director, Theodor Guschlbauer/Rockwell Blake, Ashley Putnam, Yvonne Kenny, Brenda Boozer DVD


                                     
  • impression that this piece was originally planned as an overture to Mitridate re di Ponto which has an ouverture of its own, different from this symphony
  • double - bassist. His opera repertoire includes Idomeneo, Mitridate re di Ponto Don Giovanni, Linda di Chamounix, La favorita, L elisir d amore, Anna Bolena
  • including a 1767 setting of Vittorio Amadeo Cigna - Santi s libretto Mitridate re di Ponto which three years later was set by the 14 - year - old Wolfgang Amadeus
  • Erisso in Maometto II, Oreste in Ermione, etc. In 1991, he sang in Mitridate re di Ponto at the Royal Opera House in London. He also appeared at La Monnaie
  • National de Montpellier, Zurich Opera House as Farnace in Mozart s Mitridate re di Ponto Bavarian State Opera Munich and as Ruggerio in Vivaldi s Orlando
  • Chenier, Gianni Schicchi, Le Nozze di Figaro, Stiffelio, L amore dei tre re Don Giovanni, Mitridate Re di Ponto Cosi fan tutte, A Midsummer Night s
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Mitridate re di Ponto Farnace Giovanni Battista Pergolesi Lo frate nnamorato Nina La morte di San Giuseppe Maria Santissima
  • operas are associated with it, including the premieres of Mozart s Mitridate re di Ponto Ascanio in Alba, and Lucio Silla. The opera house also saw the
  • Lucio Silla Die Zauberflote Il re pastore Mitridate re di Ponto Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail La clemenza di Tito Zaide. Performed by Sandrine
  • the original version of Mitridate re di Ponto and a new completion of Zaide the UK premieres of Gluck s La clemenza di Tito and Telemann s Orpheus
  • great acclaim. Ruiten returned to La Monnaie to sing Aspasia in Mitridate re di Ponto Gunia in Lucio Silla and as Foxie in The Cunning Little Vixen.