Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Caterino Mazzolà
Directed by Peter Coleman-Wright AO
Conducted by Dane Lam
National Opera, Canberra
Llewellyn Hall to 17 April
Reviewed by Len Power 10 April 2021
There was a real sense of occasion at Llewellyn Hall for the first night of Mozart’s opera, ‘La Clemenza Di Tito’ by Canberra’s new opera company, National Opera.
The choice of ‘La Clemenza di Tito’ was a good one. Not as well-known as other operas by Mozart, it nevertheless requires singers of a high calibre and a director able to deliver a production that is visually as well as aurally exciting.
Set in Rome in the first century AD, the plot concerns an assassination attempt on the new emperor, Tito, by the former emperor’s daughter, Vitellia. She convinces her young admirer, Sesto, to carry out the killing, but complications ensue when the emperor unexpectedly asks Vitellia to marry him. Too late to stop the assassination attempt, Vitellia is torn between her desire for the marriage and confessing her role in the assassination plot.
Director, Peter Coleman-Wright, has assembled a dream cast of Australian singers with international reputations including tenor, Bradley Daley as the emperor Tito, mezzo soprano, Catherine Carby, as Sesto, soprano, Helena Dix as Vitellia, sopranos, Eleanor Greenwood and Mikayla Tate as Annio and Servillia respectively and bass, Andrew Collis, as Publio. Every singer gave thrilling performances, both vocally and dramatically.
|From left: Eleanor Greenwood (Annio), Mikayla Tate (Servillia), Helena Dix (Vitellia), Bradley Daley (Tito), Catherine Carby (Sesto), Andrew Collis (Publio), guards and chorus|
The chorus sang with accuracy and fervour and the finales of both acts were exciting with the whole company singing with clarity and passion. The Canberra Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Dane Lam gave an excellent performance of the complex score.
|Conductor: Dane Lam|
The simple set, designed by Mel Davies, nicely suggested the Roman Forum and the Imperial Palace. The colourful costumes by Fiona Victoria Hopkins were an interesting and quirky mix of classical and contemporary styles that worked very well. The lighting design by Dr Mark Dyson added atmosphere to the set, especially during the burning of Rome sequence.
Peter Coleman-Wright’s staging was simple and effective and the overall visual effect was impressive. Local theatre and music identities Ylaria Rogers (Assistant Director), Leonard Weiss (First Assistant Conductor) and Tobias Cole (Chorus Master) added their considerable skills behind the scenes on the production to ensure a memorable evening of fine singing and performing.
As an inaugural production, ‘La Clemenza Di Tito’ was very impressive, setting a high standard for the company for the future.
Photos by Peter Hislop
Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on the Artsound FM 92.7 ‘In the Foyer’ program on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3.30pm.
‘Theatre of Power’, a regular podcast on Canberra’s performing arts scene with Len Power, can be heard on Spotify, ITunes and other selected platforms or at https://player.whooshkaa.com/shows/theatre-of-power.