Donald Macleod explores Mozart's treatment of love in its many guises in Die Zauberflöte, Idomeneo, Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro and Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

Born in 1756, the theatre was a life-long passion for Mozart. Starting at the tender age of just 11, in the space of 22 years he produced an astonishing 24 theatrical works. His destiny was to follow in his father’s footsteps, as a court musician. Instead, by 1781, after a disagreement over his frequent absences from court, Mozart parted ways with his employer, the Elector of Cologne. He left Salzburg and servitude behind, to set himself up in Vienna, a thriving centre for music. The following year he triumphed with his comic singspiel, Die Entführung aus dem Serail. The succession of works that followed include many of the mainstays of operatic repertory, among them The Magic Flute, which was completed in the year of his death, at the age of 35 in 1791.

This week Donald Macleod finds connecting points between the characters Mozart created for the stage and the composer's own experiences in life. He examines how Mozart struggled to be a dutiful son, and how he tackles honour and duty in Idomeneo, Lucio Silla and Mitridate. The ideas of enlightenment that influenced Mozart's own views find expression in the balance of power he depicts between servants and the ruling classes in The Marriage of Figaro. The composer’s thorny path to marriage with Constanze also finds him examining the complexities of love in Die Enführung aus dem Serail and Così fan tutte. The series ends with Mozart's masterly representation of temptation and evil, as characterised by the ultimate bad boy Don Giovanni and the scheming and manipulative Queen of the Night.

In today's programme, bird-catcher Papageno and the kidnapped princess Pamina reflect on marital love. For Princess Electra, love has turned to jealousy. The depth of Fiordiligi and Dorabella's love for their absent fiancés is put to the test, and Countess Almaviva despairs of receiving her husband's affection. Forgiveness is the order of the day for Konstanze and Blonde.

Die Zauberflöte (Act 1)
Bei mannern, weiche Liebe fühlen
Dorothea Röschmann, soprano, Pamina
Hanno Müller-Brachmann, Papageno
Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Idomeneo (Act 1)
Estinto e Idomeneo ….tutte nel cor vi sento ..Pieta! Numi pieta!
Hillevi Martinpelto, soprano Elettra
The English Baroque Soloists
The Monteverdi Choir
John Eliot Gardiner, conductor

Così fan tutte (Finale to Act 1)
Ah che tutta in un momento … Dammi un bacio
Monserrat Caballé, soprano, Fiordiligi
Janet Baker, mezzo soprano, Dorabella
Nicolai Gedda, tenor, Ferrando
Wladimiro Ganzarolli, baritone, Guglielmo
Ileana Cotrubas, soprano, Despina
Richard van Allan, bass, Don Alfonso
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Colin Davis, conductor

Le nozze di Figaro (Act 2)
Porgi Amor
Kiri te Kanawa, soprano, Countess
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Georg Solti, conductor

Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Act 2)
Wenn der Freude Tränen fliessen … Ach Belmonte! ach mein Leben!
Ian Bostridge, tenor, Belmonte
Christine Schäfer, soprano, Konstanze
Ian Paton, tenor, Pedrillo
Patricia Petibon, soprano, Blonde
Les Arts Florissants


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