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S&H Festival review

Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music

MOZART Zaide Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/Ivor Bolton with soloists St John's Smith Square, 17 June 2002 (PGW)


Mozart's unfinished Zaide (c.1780) anticipates Entführung, written two years later, in its slavery in the middle-east setting - and also Fidelio in its extensive use of melodrama, which at the time he preferred to sung recitative. Zaide has many moments of high quality which pre-echo Mozart's later operas, with one aria, Ruhe Sanft, notably expressive.

This concert performance with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra under Ivor Bolton was understandably flawed because the eponymous heroine was a late replacement imported from Glyndebourne. Veronica Cangami, who is in the current Iphigenie en Aulide being conducted by Ivor Bolton, had little time for preparation and decided not to have a go at theTiger, sharpen your claws aria towards the end. Her vocal production was odd, with sudden surges which spoilt the line, and her intonation was sometimes approximate. Of the other singers, Rufus Muller, as the Sultan Soliman was particularly impressive.

The concert was lop-sided, with a rather routine performance of Mozart's three movement Symphony No. 34 before the interval, so that Zaide (which was what everyone had come to hear) only began an hour after the concert started. It was then played through without interval, about 90 minutes of music; a better idea might have been to place the symphony at the end after the shorter act of the opera for those who wanted to stay or, as was common C18th practise, to have played it as an interlude between the two undramatic Acts of Zaide.

Zaide is certainly worth rescuing from time to time, but it is one of those incomplete works which will never establish itself on the stage and is best heard on CD. It is available on a complete version of the extant music, with Paul Goodwin and the AAM (St John's Smith Square's resident baroque orchestra), on Harmonia MundiHMU90 7205.

Peter Grahame Woolf


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