September 23, 2013

NEC Presents Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, October 2, in Jordan Hall as Part of Music:Truth to Power Festival

Stephen Lord Conducts NEC Philharmonia and Opera Students in One-Night Only Performance

Joshua Major Directs Concert Staging

Stephen Lord, Artistic Advisor for Opera Studies and “one of the 25 most powerful names in American Opera” (Opera News Magazine), will conduct Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, October 2 at 8 pm in NEC’s Jordan Hall. Written for the coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia, the opera finds Mozart offering subtle guidance on benevolence, mercy, and wise governance, Masonic-inspired themes that infused several of his operas including The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, and Don Giovanni. The opera, then, is a perfect fit for NEC’s year-long, multi-genre, all-school Music: Truth to Power festival.

To be performed in concert staging, the opera will be directed by Joshua Major, Chair of Opera Studies at NEC.  The performers are NEC opera students and members of the NEC Philharmonia including:

Tito: Marco Antonio Jordao
Vitellia: Nataly Wickham
Servilia: Bridget Haile
Sesto: Gillian Lynn Cotter
Annio: Jessica Harika
Publio: Josh Quinn

The 8pm concert is free and open to the public.

One of Mozart’s least well known works, Clemenza has historically gotten a bad rap. It was a modified opera seria, composed at a time when that operatic form was out of fashion. It certainly didn’t please the Empress Maria Luisa, wife of Leopold II, and an unabashed Italophile.  Much preferring opera buffa, she reportedly called the opera “una porcheria tedesca,” which is variously translated as “German swinishness” or  “German rubbish.”

Critics up to the modern day, too, have called the work undramatic, stilted, old-fashioned, and unmemorable, opining that Mozart, who had only three weeks to write it, was stifled by the restrictive forms and conventions of the old fashioned idiom and only took on the commission because he needed the money. Conductors and directors have taken scissors and applied a heavy hand to the piece, chopping out great gobbets of recitative in order to move things along more swiftly.

However, Mozart’s earliest biographer, Franz Xavier Niemetschek, a first-hand observer of the earliest performances, wrote in 1794:
“…since the subject is too simple to be able to interest the mass of people busy with coronation festivities, balls and illuminations; and since it is—shame on our age—a serious opera, it pleased less in general than its really heavenly music deserved. There is a certain Grecian simplicity, a still sublimity, which strikes a sensitive heart gently but none the less profoundly—which fit admirably to the character of Tito, the times, and the entire subject, and also reflect honor on Mozart’s delicate taste and his sense of characterizations.”

A number of contemporary conductors and performers have shared Niemetschek’s assessment and have advocated for the opera. Stephen Lord is one of them. He observes:
“…Given that Mozart had in the not very distant past written three operas to words of daPonte and the nearly perfect Magic Flute, anything else would be anticlimactic to these incredibly unique works. But this should never take away from the quality of music by a genius in his full maturity. The dramaturgy might not be that of daPonte and the style of an old fashioned libretto for an opera seria at times dictates a rather old fashioned style of composition.  But the genius and inspiration Mozart shine through.”

For further information, check the NEC Website or call the NEC Concert Line at 617-585-1122.  NEC’s Jordan Hall, Brown Hall, Williams Hall and the Keller Room are located at 30 Gainsborough St., corner of Huntington Ave. Pierce Hall is located at 241 St. Botolph St. between Gainsborough and Mass Ave.

A cultural icon approaching its 150th anniversary in 2017, New England Conservatory (NEC) is recognized worldwide as a leader among music schools. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, on the Avenue of the Arts in the Fenway Cultural District, NEC offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate music students from around the world. Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars. NEC alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide. Half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC-trained musicians and faculty.

NEC is the oldest independent school of music in the United States. Founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee, an American music educator, choral conductor and organist, its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions. On the college level, NEC features training in classical, jazz, and Contemporary Improvisation. Graduate and post-graduate programs supplement these core disciplines with orchestral conducting and professional chamber music training. Additional programs, such as the Sistema Fellows, a professional training program for top postgraduate musicians and music educators that creates careers connected to music, youth, and social change, and Entrepreneurial Musicianship, a cutting-edge program integrating professional and personal skills development into the musical training of students to better develop the skills and knowledge needed to create one’s own musical opportunities, also enhance the NEC experience.

Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Programs and Partnerships Program, the Conservatory provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, and adults. Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music, jazz, and Contemporary Improvisation. Currently more than 750 young artists from 46 states and 39 foreign countries attend NEC on the college level; 1,400 young students attend on the Preparatory level; and 325 adults participate in the Continuing Education program.

The only conservatory in the United States designated a National Historic Landmark, NEC presents more than 900 free concerts each year. Many of these take place in Jordan Hall (which shares National Historic Landmark status with the school), world-renowned for its superb acoustics and beautifully restored interior. In addition to Jordan Hall, more than a dozen performance spaces of various sizes and configurations are utilized to meet the requirements of the unique range of music performed at NEC, from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to big band jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, and opera scenes. Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre or Paramount Center in Boston, and a semi-staged performance in Jordan Hall. This past 2012-2013 season, the operas produced were Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, and Rossini’s La Gazzetta.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Senior Communications Specialist
New England Conservatory
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115