Techniques | Reconciliation & Redemption | Classical Era | Opera
All Mozart’s operas, from Idomeneo to La clemenza di Tito, are touched by a Shakespearean wisdom and compassion. In the spirit of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation lie at the heart of each of these works, sometimes encapsulated in music of sublime, transfiguring stillness. The hushed reflections on forgiveness in the two finales of Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and the Countess’s pardon of her errant husband at the climax of Figaro are all the more poignant for the animation that surrounds them. Equally, the final union of Pamina and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, initiated by a magical change of key, is a moment of rarefied loveliness that confirms the depth and truth of the opera’s central message. In the outwardly cynical, worldly Così fan tutte, such numbers as the ‘farewell’ quintet and trio in Act I transform the potentially ridiculous into transcendent beauty. Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni begins as an object of mockery. But Mozart infuses her music in the second act, above all in the trio ‘Ah taci, ingiusto core’ (‘Be still, unjust heart’), with profound tenderness. His characters may be frail, self-centred and absurd, but through Mozart’s music they are ennobled and redeemed.
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