La clemenza di Tito

Teatro Regio, Friday 16 May 2008 - Sunday 25 May 2008

Thales Alenia Space

Presentation

Caldara, Leo, Hasse, Gluck, Jommelli, Traetta: these are just a few of the composers who put to music Metastasio’s libretto of The Clemency of Titus. The first was Antonio Caldara, and “his” The Clemency of Titus was staged on 4 November 1734 in Vienna to celebrate the name-day of Emperor Charles VI. When, in June 1791, the Bohemian States General asked the impresario Domenico Guardasoni to commission a celebrative opera for the coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia, Metastasio’s libretto, which Voltaire liked so much, was immediately chosen. Guardasoni first proposed it to Salieri, who refused, and then Mozart, who accepted the payment of two hundred ducats. The text was entrusted to the court poet Caterino Mazzolà, who made numerous cuts and modified the structure, reducing it from three acts to two.

In his catalogue of operas, Mozart wrote: «reduced to a real opera by signor Mazzolà». The composer, who was also working on The Magic Flute in that period, went to Prague with his wife Konstanze and his student Süssmayr, guests at the Villa Bertramka. On 6 September 1791, the opera was staged at the National Theatre of Prague. The chronicles of the coronation reported: «the Singspiel was a success fully deserved by the author, composer and singers. Their Majesties left the hall visibly satisfied». In reality, it was not a great success and it seems that the Empress declared, in Italian, that it was «German rubbish». In The Clemency of Titus Mozart recreates “opera seria”, very different from the trilogy of Da Ponte, and this greatly surprised the public and critics. The Mozart historian Robbins Landon wrote: «today, however, we have come to appreciate The Clemency of Titus as a composition of great psychological introspection, and at least it offers an hour of the greatest music Mozart ever wrote. All that is necessary for immortality».

Main data

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Librettist: Caterino Mazzolà
Year of the first performance: 1791 National Theater Praga