Mozart - Mitridate, Re di Ponto (2006) [DVD9 NTSC]

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  • Type DVD
  • Language Italian
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Mozart - Mitridate, Re di Ponto (2006) [DVD9 NTSC]

Actors: Gösta Winbergh, Yvonne Kenny, Ann Murray, Anna Gjevang, Joan Rodgers
Directors: Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, DTS Surround Sound
Language: Italian (DTS ES)
Subtitles: English
Dubbed: English
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
DVD Release Date: April 11, 2006
Run Time: 124 minutes
Filmed at Teatro Olimpico, Vincenza in March 1986

Of Nikolaus Harnoncourt - the Wild Man of Borneo - one could write scathingly or beseechingly, dismissively or irately and sometimes all modes at once. To paraphrase what Churchill said of Russia, he's a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. When he gets it wrong - a not uncommon occurrence - he's more of a contagion than the Ebola Virus (to wit, Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 39, 40 & 41 (2CDs)), On the other hand, when the opposite is true, he could not be more of a king even if he donned a Mexican sundial jumpsuit and belted out "Viva Las Vegas."

This performance of Mitridate, Re di Ponto, filmed in the sumptuous Teatro Olimpico de Vicenza, is one of his supreme achievements. It's the best K 87 known to me - with infinitely more punch to its name than the sedentary Mozart: Mitridate (Philips Complete Mozart Edition, Vol. 29). Who would have thought that Harnoncourt could muster such warmth and charm? Indeed, it ranks with Haydn: Symphonies Nos 31 Hornsignal & 59 Fire & 73 La Chasse as one of his pyramids. If every one of his performances were of this mettle, the Wild Man would bestride the world like a colossus.

It is superbly sung (with one exception). The late Gosta Winbergh IS Mitridate. His landfall and thanksgiving to the gods are magical. How well he conveys the filicidal rage of the vanquished king. What a pity that the sound-engineers do him no favours in "Quel ribelle e quell'ingrato" and "Già di pietà mi spoglio" where his voice is recessed in each instance. He is better served in "Vado incontro al fato estremo", a gutsy aria in the minor that prefigures the opening bars of K 183. Yvonne Kenny - here as Aspasia - never made a better record. What a "Al destin, che la minaccia." It sets the scene for the subsequent action. She also melts stone in "Nel grave tormento." Much the same could be said of Ann Murray as Sifare - she could be remembered for "Lungi da te, mio bene" and nothing else and count herself blessed (and in passing, this aria alone is worth the price of admission - and how sweetly it's played by the Concentus Musicus Wien). Joan Rodgers is a sumptuous Ismeme. The only blot here - and it's a shocker - is Anne Gjevang as Farnace. She's so bovine (to wit, "Va, l'error mio palesa") one almost reaches for a cow-bell. Einstein states that Mitridate was the best opera seria to come Mozart's way. With Ponnelle in charge of proceedings, his claim rings true. One becomes engrossed in the narrative.

There are majors cuts in terms of arias and recitatives (for starters, Arbate's "L'odio nel cor frenate" and Farnace's "Venga pur, minacci e frema" are missing from Act 1). They're available in Hager's performance.


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