Lucio Silla in Sweden: Just Embryos of Mozart’s Development.

SwedenSweden Mozart, Lucio Silla: Soloists, Rebaroque, Maria Lindal (leader) at the Royal Castle, Stockholm 27.9.2015 (GF)

_DSC9254-Foto-EliasGammelgård (3)
From Lucio Silla copyright Elias Gammelgård

Mozart, Lucio Silla

Arrangements: Jonas Dominique

Design and concept: Carolina Rönnberg


Lucio Silla, dictator – Tobias Westman
Cecilio, senator – Paulina Pfeiffer
Giunia, betrothed to Cecilio – Frida Johansson
Lucio Cinna, Roman patriot and friend of Cecilio – Maja Frydén
Celia, sister to Lucio Silla – Sara Swietlicki

Dancers: Boeld Aquilon, Kajsa Granström, Mikaela Tarantino, Isabel Hylin

A year and a half ago Anna Eklund Tarantino arranged a production of Mozart’s first Italian opera Mitridate at the Royal Castle in Stockholm and also sang one of the leading roles (review). Now, when she is artistic director of “Music at the Royal Castle” she has to cut down on her own singing but she does everything around the productions, from cleaning the toilets to putting up posters. Mitridate was a first ever in Sweden and his second Italian opera, Lucio Silla has not been seen either before. It is a long opera and Anna wisely opted for cuts (the seats in the Hall of State are not the most comfortable in the world, and a complete performance would take almost four hours). The long and not very interesting secco recitatives were all gone as well as about half the music numbers. What we got was a highlights concert in costume and with brief narratives from Maria Lindal between the numbers. It should be said that Mozart, still only fifteen when he composed the music, had matured since he wrote Mitridate, and one could hear more than just embryos of a great composer’s development. Cecilio’s Pupille amato can stand comparison with much of what he wrote 10-15 years later.

Carolina Rönnberg’s costumes are worth a chapter of their own. She has made a mix of features from baroque, rococo and present time, looking like nothing I had seen before. Beautiful, strange and fun – and thought-provoking. With wigs and painted faces we were transported not only back in time but also to other cultures- opera at its most universal.

We need not delve in the fairly complicated story, just note that there is quite a lot of dramatic arias and a fair share of coloratura. Besides the arias there was also a nice duet for Giunia and Cecilio, D’Eliso in son m’attendo, and a trio for Lucio Silla, Giunia and Cecilio. The second part opened with a ballet, lovingly performed by the four young dancers.

The playing of Rebaroque was of course top-notch, light and springy. And the five singers were great. Tobias Westman impresses more for every time I hear him and he has proven before that he is well attuned to Mozart. His dramatic involvement was strong. Paulina Pfeiffer time and again showed that she is among the very best sopranos around in this country, not only has she a superb voice but she is also expressive, visually as well as vocally. Frida Johansson has charisma and her coloratura was clean and secure. Maja Frydén and Sara Swietlicki had less to sing but both were very good. There are certainly a lot of excellent young singers around in Sweden at the moment and I hope that we will be treated to more rare early Mozart in the future.

Before the performance the young cellist Daniel Thorell was awarded a scholarship from the Friends of Music at the Royal Castle and he played the prelude from Bach’s G major suite, stylishly and technically impeccably.

Göran Forsling

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