In October 1770 the then relatively young Wolfgang Mozart wrote from Milan, My dear Mamma, I cannot write much, for my fingers are aching from composing so many recitatives. Mamma, I beg you pray for me, that my opera may go well and that we may be happy together again. I kiss Mamma’s hand a thousand times -¦ He was 14 years old.
The opera Mitridate, Re Di Ponto is not the work of a talented kid. The story is the usual cloak and dagger, malignantly manipulated suburban antics that we have grown to expect from opera but the melodic pyrotechnic excursions are vast and many.
Australian soprano Emma Matthews has the perfect voice to bring this virtuosic young work to life. Luminous in neon-Tiepolo blue, Matthews’s performance of the aria In faccia all’oggetto, driven by the required gymnastically lyrical power, was seamless and radiant. She also dazzled with L’amero, saro constante, a sweet and noble confession from Il Re Pastore, a serenata in two acts from Mozart’s last teenage year. Matthews’s tenderness shone through all passages, warmly and elegantly impassioned with an overall lilting grace.
Interestingly, all vocal works on this program were originally voiced by a castrato and Matthews dazzled yet again with Exsultate, jubilate, a motet of the loveliest order. She realised each movement perfectly pitched, with significant balance and immense joy.
Mozart visited the violin concerto only once, with virtually all of his five concertos being written concurrently. The ACO’s Richard Tognetti was soloist in Concerto No 3, also performing his own cadenzas. He led a merry dance through the concerto’s folk-like Hungarian themes in the first movement, was suitably quiet in the second and finished with rapturous conviction and clarity in the finale.
Finally some late Mozart. Symphony No 41 Jupiter, so named after later piano transcription of the work, for the mammoth portent of its final movement. The ACO again demonstrated its energetic style, remarkable tone and combined sense of purpose while performing this pure and almost elusive masterwork.
A splendid concert which, like Mozart’s music, was perfect to the uninitiated ear and yet capable of deeper musicological delving.
Emma Matthews and the ACO perform again at the Sydney Opera House at 2:30pm on 1 August and at Angel Place on 2 and 3 August at 8pm.