I have a soft spot for Mozart’s Lucio Silla. I spent many an hour as an adolescent trying to convince my then-best-friend that Mozart’s opera seria, and particularly this work written in 1772 far-surpassed anything that Mozart was to later write.
I think it was the drama of being an adolescent as well as the allure of the coloratura arias for a teenager trying to find his own identity that had more to do with this stance than anything.
But you cannot discount that Lucio Silla is a great opera. Each aria is perfectly crafted and – within the confines of the straight-jacketed genre that Mozart was writing in – he achieved an level of emotional sophistication that outstripped his contemporaries.
Cinna’s opening Vieni ov’amor t’invita might not exactly plumb the emotional depths but it is a very fine aria. And here, sung by Susanne Elmark for Adam Fischer and the Danish Radio Sinfonia, is a real gem.
Adam Fischer is a consummate Mozartian and he judges the tempo perfectly. Every moving part of the orchestra is transparent and articulated. The wind and brass punch through with just enough brass to add that martial dash to Cinna’s character. And the tempo allows Ms Elmark’s clean and beautifully balanced voice to deliver well paced singing. There is no rushing through the coloratura with each individual division clear and each phrase is intelligently sung with no cadence clipped. And her diction is excellent.
And of course this traditional aria doesn’t prepare the listener for what follows. Not only the other formidable arias but also the quality of the accompanied recitatives and the wonderful tomb scene.
All this when he was just sixteen.