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Mozart La Clemenza di Tito
Salzburg Festival, 2003

Sesto Vesselina Kasarova

Annio Elina Garanca

Vitellia Dorothea Roschmann

Servilia Barbara Bonney

Publio Luca Pisarone

Tito Michael Schade



Conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt

Stage Director Martin Kusej

TV Director Brian Large

Set Design Jens Kilian

Costume Design Bettina Walter

Lighting Design Reinhard Traub


2 DVDs 160 minutes


A 3-storey open dolls house of a set must of necessity look very different in camera close-up than the panoramic view seen by the live audience in the theatre. In this instance I am not convinced that the concept worked particularly well in the theatr, and it certainly fails on film.


Apart from the central grand hall Tito's palace is a pretty shabby place, and all that cutting away to singers running up or down badly lit stairways, or to close ups against an anonymous looking wal,l are more distracting than enlightening.


Timing has of course been updated to somewhere near the present, to enable the conspiracy to become a terrorist plot, and the fire, or perhaps explosion, is accompanied by much smoke, soot and panic.


What a pity it is, since a really top class singing and acting cast has been assembled.


Michael Schade gives a wonderfully sensitive account of the troubled emperor, though even he finds it hard to look comfortable in the extraordinary state robes. Barbara Bonney brings real charm and a certain fragility to Servillia. Vesselina Kasarova sails effortlessly through all Sesto's big arias. Parto, parto is quite magnificent, and I was much impressed with Elina Garanca's very truthful portrayal of Annio. Dorothea Roschmann may not have quite the forcefulness to make an ideal Vitellia, but as the poor woman is forced spend a disproportionate amount of time in her underwear in a cramped bathroom (even perched uncomfortably in the wash basin for one aria), this may well have undermined her concentration.


Harnoncourt of course drives the orchestra with his usual ferocious attention to detail, and it is all greatly pleasing on the ear. My overall preference however remains for the National Opera de Paris DVD reviewed elsewhere on this site.


Serena Fenwick