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Mozart – Apollo and Hyacinthus

The Classical Opera Company in association with Opera Theatre Company Ireland

The Britten Theatre, London 2 March 2006

Conductor – Ian Page

Director – Annilese Miskimmon

Designer – Neil Irish

Lighting – Tina MacHugh


Melia – Rebecca Bottone

Hyacinthus – Martene Grimson

Apollo – William Purefoy

Zephyrus – James Laing

Oebalus – Mark Le Brocq

The Young Composer – Calvin Wright

Bass chorus – Martin McAnaney


The 11 year old Mozart was certainly musically mature beyond his years – he had already travelled throughout Europe with his father and sister giving recitals in the salons of the rich and powerful – all the time assimilating the musical styles that he encountered as he went along. Now here he was back in his home town of Salzburg and commissioned to write an opera for a local school - imagine what it must have been like - suddenly he had the opportunity and excitement of preparing a piece to be performed on stage, with scenery, action and special effects. A bit like a modern day child presented with a new computer game.


It is this sense of delighted exploration and fun that Annilese Miskimmon has captured in her production. A miniature proscenium arch and curtain are at centre stage with director's desk at stage right.


As the intrada plays, the young Mozart (Calvin Wright) comes on proudly clutching a model of his set, then with a lighted taper works his way along the front of the stage, all nice ly coinciding with the music. He reappears frequently, peeping cheerfully through the curtain to see how things are going – bringing on sets and props, excitedly setting up the “effects”, always with an exuberant smile on his face.


It all sets the scene for the action proper and, make no mistake, this is a serious classical drama, pulling no musical punches. Oebalus and Melia, the wronged and deceived father and daughter have the best of the music, and Mark Le Brocq and Rebecca Bottone were outstanding in these roles. Martene Grimson was uncharacteristically subdued as Hyacinthus, though of course he is doomed to death almost from the word go. William Purefoy was suitably regal as Apollo, but Zephyrus (James Laing) was disadvantaged both by being the villain of the piece and by a most unflattering outfit.


Wisely given in Richard Dearsley's excellent English translation, the performance was a delight from beginning to end. It will be touring to various locations in the coming months (http://www.classicalopera.co.uk/Event10026.html) and is certainly worth a special journey – it's the best Mozart anniversary celebration I've witnessed yet!


© Serena Fenwick