Opera Scotland

Clemenza di Tito 2014Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Read more about the opera Clemenza di Tito

It was good to find Mozart's last opera being given a fine performance at the Conservatoire.

This mature work is rarely performed in Scotland, and is all the more welcome for that.

This staging by Ashley Dean worked well on its own terms. A clinically simple stage picture designed by Cordelia Chisholm presented the single word ROMA in huge letters that filled the stage. Each letter could be moved back or forwards as required to adjust the mood. After the interval, and the fire in the Capitol, the last three letters were piled in a disordered heap at the side. Costumes were equally simple - full-length gowns for the two ladies, charcoal-grey lounge suits for the men. The chorus sang from offstage until the final scene, when they appeared in everyday outfits, having presumably ransacked their wardrobes for anything in monochrome. At this point, Titus appeared for the first time in a toga, white rather than purple.

The cast shows the great international reach and reputation now enjoyed by the Conservatoire. The six first cast soloists come from Brazil, Iceland, Japan, Scotland, Ireland, and Armenia.  The great series of duets, trios and ensembles, that Mazzolà's reworking of Metastasio's libretto introduced, provided plenty of opportunities for these well-schooled voices to blend and contrast as required. All gave thoroughly enjoyable accounts of their roles.

The only unfamiliar performer was Ragnheidur Óladóttir, projecting an excitingly dramatic voice which sailed through the difficult, exposed role of Vitellia with ease. Tall and slim, with excellent stage manner, she was equally effective spitting out her lines in the fierce 'Vengo, aspettate' as in the resignation of her great final rondo 'Non più di fiori', with its plaintive basset-horn solo.

The young Japanese mezzo Ayaka Tanimoto was a delightful surprise as Sesto. Slim and boyish looking, with a beautiful sweet-toned voice, she gave lovely accounts of her arias. Only in the high drama of the first act finale when begging the earth to swallow her up did she perhaps lack the power necessary. Hazel McBain's singing is developing nicely - a beautiful lyric soprano and a good actress, she is not the first performer to find that Servilia is a gift of a part.

Debora Ruiz-Kordova sang just as captivatingly as Annio. The only unexpected feature of her singing came more from the expectation that this role is usually the deepest-sounding of the female voices on stage, Instead of a near-contralto sound, her voice was almost soprano in tone. That did not hinder the wonderful 'Ah, perdono' duet with Servilia from making its intended effect.

Arshak Kuzikyan produces an impressive bass sound, perhaps rarely needed as Publio. The dramatic side of his role was strengthened by the presence of a pair of non-singing guardsmen (Ross McLean and Kenneth Reid) for company.

The title-role is difficult to cast. Sometimes Titus can seem a dramatic nonentity, with serious musical difficulties not justified by lack of involvement in the plot. Here, the staging allowed him a more prominent role, and Luperci de Souza seized every opportunity. By his final, very demanding, aria, 'Se all' impero', he sounded rather tired.  For the finale, however, he had recovered to full vigour.

Timothy Dean's account of the score was idiomatic. The overture was briskly performed, with a light touch. The band was on good form and all the singers were allowed to phrase comfortably. Recitatives were also given a sense of drama. All in all, it proved a stylish, satisfying and fully Mozartian performance.

NB please note the Perth performance will be in concert form.

Prices are at three levels, £19.50, £22.50 and £25.50  Concessions available.

Performance Cast

Tito Titus Vespasianus, Emperor of Rome

Luperci de Souza (Jan 18, 24, 28)

Joseph Oparamanuike (Jan 20, 25)

Vitellia daughter of the deposed Emperor, Vitellius

Ragnheidur Óladóttir Jan 18, 24, 28)

Heather Jamieson (Jan 20, 25)

Sesto Sextus, friend of Titus, in love with Vitellia

Ayaka Tanimoto

Servilia sister of Sextus, in love with Annius

Hazel McBain

Annio Annius, friend of Sextus, in love with Servilia

Debora Ruiz-Kordova

Publio Publius, Captain of the Praetorian Guard

Arshak Kuzikyan

Performance DatesClemenza di Tito 2014

Map List

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland | Glasgow

18 Jan, 19.15 20 Jan, 19.15 24 Jan, 19.15 25 Jan, 19.15

Perth Concert Hall | Perth

28 Jan, 19.15

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