The genre of "Il sogno di Scipione" hovers between opera seria and
oratorio. Devoid of psychological development or even dramatic conflict, it
centers on Scipio, who dreams of two beautiful allegorical women: Fortuna
(Fortune) and Costanza (Constancy). The two women both try to win him over.
Ultimately, Scipio has to choose one, and his choice falls, unsurprisingly,
The Mozart 22 production of "Il sogno di Scipione" (Scipio's Dream) adds
two more superlatives to the already stunning list of this project's
matchless achievements. The musical direction is in the hands of the
youngest conductor of all Mozart 22 works, Robin Ticciati, born in 1983;
and it is most likely the very first staged performance ever of this work,
which was not given its first full-length concert premiere until 1979, at
the Salzburg Mozartwoche. Based on a libretto by Pietro Metastasio, like
"Betulia liberata," "Tito" and "Rè pastore," the azione teatrale was
composed between April and August 1771. Although it was intended for
Archbishop Schrattenbach, he died before the work was completed.
Director Michael Sturminger has devised a light and witty staging with
artists from the Klagenfurt Municipal Theater. He transposes the action to
what looks like a large suite in a luxury hotel. Gone are all traces of
pallid allegory in the depictions of the two women: Fortuna (a warmly
intoning Bernarda Bobro) is a vamp and seductress in revealing dresses;
Costanza (a dazzlingly virtuoso Louise Fribo) is the sensible housewife and
mother who, however, hasn't forgotten how to turn on her man. To help guide
Scipio back on the path of virtue, Sturminger has Costanza trot out the
couple's two cute little children...
Musically, the work flickers with flashes of genius that prefigure the
later operatic master. Already self-confident in his treatment of emotions,
Mozart relishes his chance to formulate breathtaking vocal fireworks as
his protagonists grapple with lust, desire and virtue. Thanks to Blagoj
Nacoski, the title role stands out for its brilliance and clarity. British
conductor Robin Ticciati leads the chorus of the Klagenfurt Municipal
Theater and the Carinthian Symphony Orchestra with irrepressible verve.