Opera Tickets Italy

Teatro Malibran

Platea, € 156

Apollo et Hyacinthus, Opera by W. A. Mozart

Apollo et Hyacinthus, Opera by W. A. Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is widely known as the boy genius of classical music, and yet his earliest operatic work rarely gets much attention. Gran Teatro La Fenice sets about correcting that omission. At Teatro Malibran in Venice, fans of the Austrian prodigy can see what most experts agree was his first proper opera, Apollo et Hyacinthus. The composer was merely 11 years old when he composed it. Premiered at the Benedictine University in Salzburg in 1767 to positive reviews, this work has seen only rare revivals since then. This season, Apollo et Hyacinthus receives some much-deserved attention again.

Mozart got to compose this first secular drama of his thanks to his father Leopold’s connections at the Benedictine University in their hometown. The Latin libretto was the work of Father Rufinus Widl who integrated Apollo et Hyacinthus’s three acts as intermedia into his own five-act drama Clementia Croesi. The two works share a main motif: the accidental killing of a loved one. Mozart’s opera retells the story of Apollo and Hyacinth, most famously presented in Ancient Greek playwright Ovid’s Metamorphoses. To conform with the religious purity required of all works presented at the Benedictine University, Rufinus Widl removed the central element of the homosexual love between the Sun God and the young boy by adding the characters of Hyacinth’s sister Melia and their father Oebalus, and by making the former Apollo’s love interest.

Musically, Apollo et Hyacinthus makes for a very exciting listening experience. Mozart’s signature stylistic elements are beginning to show. Recitatives set up characters’ emotional displays and naturally flow into da capo arias, whose melodies do a significant amount of narrative work. The duet of Oebalus and Melia is a thing of rare beauty where the voices blend with carefully crafted orchestral sound effects like muted violins and pizzicato strings. At Teatro Malibran, Mozart’s early magic shines again.

image Teatro Malibran / Fondazione Teatro La Fenice, Michele Crosera