Search - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, René Jacobs, Freiburger Barockorchester :: Mozart - La clemenza di Tito / Padmore, Pendatchanska, Fink, Chappuis, Im, Foresti, RIAS, Freiburg, Jacobs

Mozart - La clemenza di Tito / Padmore, Pendatchanska, Fink, Chappuis, Im, Foresti, RIAS, Freiburg, Jacobs
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, René Jacobs, Freiburger Barockorchester
Mozart - La clemenza di Tito / Padmore, Pendatchanska, Fink, Chappuis, Im, Foresti, RIAS, Freiburg, Jacobs
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (23) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (23) - Disc #2

Mozart's opera about an emperor with a heart of gold and the plotters who betray him ends with reconciliation and forgiveness. Along the way we meet characters who include a good man tortured by his conscience, a vindictiv...  more »


Larger Image
Listen to Samples

CD Details

Mozart's opera about an emperor with a heart of gold and the plotters who betray him ends with reconciliation and forgiveness. Along the way we meet characters who include a good man tortured by his conscience, a vindictive seductress, a selfless heroine, and sundry others, all in a work in which Mozart reverts to the old opera seria style. That means lots of long recitatives which, together with a credulity-straining plot, resulted in many condemning the opera to the second tier of Mozart's works. But when given in a performance of such volatile vitality and superb singing, it commands our attention. The music certainly is top-drawer Mozart, thanks to Jacobs's incisive conducting, the period orchestra's lively playing, and a cast of singers who handle difficult coloratura with ease and offer persuasive portrayals. Pendatchanska is thrilling as the evil pivot of the plot, singing with exciting abandon, while Fink (as her foil who betrays his friend for her love) is on the same level, singing with ardor and tossing off coloratura runs without breaking a sweat. Mark Padmore in the title role sings with his usual honeyed tenor and makes Tito a believable character, which takes some doing. What sets this recording apart from other worthy ones, such as those by Colin Davis, Charles Mackarras, and John Eliot Gardiner, is its dramatic thrust. Stock figures become believable, their dilemmas and self-doubts become interesting, their music revealing and impactful. By far the best version of the opera, it should be heard by all Mozartians. -- Dan Davis

CD Reviews

A study in recitatives
Tom Lawrence | Cambridge, MA USA | 10/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Review #1 -- In his liner notes to this set, conductor Rene Jacobs makes a strong case for performing La Clemenza di Tito in its entirety. While it is apparently true that a pressing deadline forced Mozart to farm out the recitatives to another hand, this recording makes every note count. The singers use judicious ornamentation and well-crafted declamation to plumb the emotional depths of the recits. A careful listening to this opera with libretto in hand rewards you with the elegant poetry and rhetoric of the original Metastasio text. This work becomes a psychological drama in which each character explores his inner torment to circumstances spinning out of control.

Beyond the beauty of the written word there is the beauty of the music. The arias and orchestrated recitatives that Mozart did write are the sublime work of a master at the peak of his power. He breaks the conventions of opera seria with a modern use of vocal ensembles, new reed instruments and, of course, his infallible instincts for the act finale. A careful listening with score in hand will reveal a compositional delight. -- 5 stars

Review #2 -- A casual listening to this recording of La Clemenza di Tito reveals why this work has so many detractors. After a rousing overture the show begins with three and a half minutes of recitative (three and a half minutes!). Talk about dulling the ear. Much of the action takes place off stage; the departure of the presumed empress-to-be, the burning of palace, a failed assassination attempt. What remains is endless hand-wringing and hemming and hawing by the six principals.

Mark Padmore has a creamy, palatal tenor with a wide wobble of a vibrato on his open vowels, something like a lower extension of Marilyn Horne. He makes the title character sound like a lovesick swain, which to some degree he is. But Titus is also an emperor and needs to sound imperial, which Padmore does not. -- 2 stars

If I had to choose one recording of this opera it would be the Archiv set conducted by John Eliot Gardiner. He shaves off 16 minutes of recitatives, and the action benefits from the trimming -- there is more bite and dramatic punch. Despite its being a live recording (yet without interuption of applause) there is more clarity in the sound. I can hear more specifics in the orchestra and Anthony Rolfe Johnson is more to my liking as Titus."
Titus Revitalized
R. Gerard | Pennsylvania USA | 01/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"For too long Mozart's last opera "Titus" has been shrugged off as an "inferior effort" to his other late operas (Figaro, Don Giovanni, etc). Recall in the film Amadeus when Tom Hulce says, "Why must we go on forever, writing about gods and heroes and old dead legends?... I'm fanned to the teeth with all these elevated things!" His character, of course, was speaking of the already outdated opera seria, a genre to which "Titus" belongs.

Nonetheless, "Titus" was very popular after it's premiere (not right away), and it even shared popularity with "Don Giovanni." Since then, it's popularity has dwindled, due to its "odd man out" stature among Mozart's late great comic operas.

Leave it to Rene Jacobs, however, to bring it back to life- back to the popularity it deserves. 2006, the 250th year after Mozart's birth has seen a deluge of new recordings of this opera (e.g. Mackerras.) This, however, is considered by many to outshine them all. The reason for this is the theatricality of it. In all of Rene Jacobs' Mozart recording, there is never a dull moment, and that especially goes for the recitatives (you know, the parts you always skip over when listening to opera on disc.) Thank's to Jacobs' reviving the practice of a highly improvised continuo line, the recitatives become just as exciting as any ensemble or aria. In, say, the Mackerras recording, you may find yourself a bit bored. In Mackerras' recording his singers sing, and that's it. With Jacobs, his singers "perform."

Another reason Jacobs has a leg up on Mackerras is his tempi. Jacob's tempi changes, especially in the Act I finale add to the urgency of the plot: opera is, after all, all theater in the end. One small quibble though, on two occasions it seems Jacobs goes overboard: such as in the Act II trio with Publius, Sextus, and Titus ("Avvicinati", for some reason, is sped up), and also curiously sped up is certain sections of the Finale (the chorus "Che Del Ciel" and the last section)... so much that these sections lose their grandeur. These quibbles are so minor though, considering how great this recording is overall, and a huge contributing factor to that, of course, is the soloists.

Alexandrina Pendatchanska is a real gem as Vitellia. You may not be able to see her, but you can sense the urgency in her voice. Hear her effectively go from complete Vesuvian madness and anger, to a penitent confessor. She is the real "blood-and-guts" power hungry, bloodthirsy Prima Donna that Vitellia is supposed to be. And without exaggeration, she will be a hard one to beat. She far outshines any other Vitellia on record (coming close, my second pick would be Dorothea Roschmann.) Truly, Pendatchanska reminds me of a Cecilia Bartoli of sorts.

The ensemble plays crisp and precise and major credit goes to the continuo section for making the recitatives exciting again.

This justly multiple-Grammy Nominated release is strongly recommended. (And keep an eye out for Harmonia Mundi-Rene Jacob's recording of Don Giovanni supposedly in the works.)"
Talented singers but a bit lacking in style
Irene Adler | Seattle, WA | 05/01/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I picked up this recording because I'm a fan of Jacobs from his Cosi and Figaro recordings. He has consistently chosen strong casts of singers with polished technique and pleasant timbre, and his recordings exhibit crystal-clear orchestration, allowing one to fully experience the structure of the music. This recording lives up to past performance in that the cast sings admirably (it is probably the best ensemble out of all the Tito recordings commonly available) and the orchestra is recorded in crisp but lush sound. Thus, it is easily one of the best recordings of this opera on the market today. The only weakness, though it is a fairly large and thus detrimental one, is that the singers aren't extremely accomplished musicians. That is, while they sing with sufficient feeling, their ornamentation often clashes with Mozart's music. It would probably have been better if the singers had gotten a little guidance in their appoggiatura so that they sound more ornamental instead of jarring and disruptive. A good example of tasteful appoggiatura is Bartoli's various renditions of "Voi che sapete" -- she sings it differently on all of her recorded versions, but each version sounds "right." Bernarda Fink had previously exhibited weak appoggiatura in Cosi fan tutte, though she only used it sparingly. In this recording, however, she employs it fairly frequently. For example, there are at least 3 instances in "Deh per questo istante" alone. While that aria is a dramatic focal point, and thus the singer should be allowed more expressive room, I feel that Ms. Fink's additions to the aria detracted from the music.

In short, even though this recording boasts superb sound and vocal beauty, and could have been the best recording of this opera to date, the poor ornamental choices made by some singers causes the experience as a whole to fall flat. I would hesitate to recommend this as an introduction to the opera, but more experienced collectors will probably want to own it for Jacob's take. I would recommend Gardiner's set with Anne Sophie von Otter, or Hogwood's set with Bartoli. I personally always go back to the Hogwood set because the three principals -- Tito, Sesto, and Vitellia -- are the strongest out of all the recordings I've heard; unfortunately, the coprimario are rather insipid."