The commissions of Moris, Sellars, and Lindberg mark the festival's 40th anniversary and the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, as does a commissioned digital art installation based on his music that will run 24 hours a day on the fa‹ade of Avery Fisher Hall during the festival.
Artistic director Jane Moss and music director Louis Langr_e announced the details of the festival at a press conference at Lincoln Center today, with Morris and the creators of the installation, the OpenEnded Group, in attendance.
The festival will run from July 28 to August 26, starting with a free preview concert on July 28 at Avery Fisher Hall. The August 2 performance, to feature pianist Garrick Ohlsson and soprano Hei-Kyung Hong, will be broadcast live on PBS's Live From Lincoln Center.
Morris, who has brought a series of works to Mostly Mozart in recent years, will create a work for the festival for the first time. Titled Mozart Dances, the evening-length piece will make use of Mozart's Piano Concertos Nos. 11 and 27 and the Sonata in D for two pianos. The music will be performed live by the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra—making its first-ever non-concert appearance—with pianists Emanuel Ax and Yoko Nokazi as soloists. Langr_e will conduct.
In agreeing to create the work, Morris said, he had rejected the conventional wisdom that "you're not supposed to" set dances to Mozart, "because it's too hard to do." Having started work, however, he said, he had discovered that there was some truth to the idea.
"It's too early for me to tell you anything else," he said. "I hope it's really good."
Sellars' production of Zaide, which gets its world premiere at the Wiener Festwochen in May, will star soprano Hyanuah Yu in the title role, tenor Norman Shankle as Gomatz, and tenor Russell Thomas as Soliman. The early-music group Concerto K‹ln will accompany the performances, conducted by Langr_e.
The production will make use only of Mozart's finished material—which lacks an overture, a final act, and spoken dialogue—rather than one of the reconstructions of the work completed after his death.
The art installation, titled Enlightenment, will track the progress, through graphics and sound, of a powerful computer program as it repeatedly breaks down the final coda of Mozart's Jupiter Symphony to its constituent elements, analyzes the relationships between its various themes, and reassembles it.
The work, said Paul Kaiser, who is creating it with Marc Downie and Shelley Eshkar, is intended to "look back at the master of the Age of Enlightenment to see what lessons are still to be learned from him."
Moss added, "I have never fallen so deeply in love with an idea that I in no way understand."
Langr_e will lead the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra in 13 concerts, starting with the free event on July 28, to feature Mozart's first and last symphonies, and ending with performances of the final three symphonies on August 25 and 26.
The conductor, who is beginning his second three-year term at the festival this year, said that his relationship with Lincoln Center and with his musicians has become very comfortable. "When we start a rehearsal now," he said, "we are already further along than when we finished two years ago."
For the second year in a row, Avery Fisher Hall will be reconfigured for the festival. As in 2005, the stage will be extended into the audience, seating will be placed behind the orchestra, and an acoustic canopy containing lighting will be placed over the stage.
Visiting ensembles include violinist Gidon Kremer and his Kremerata Baltica, performing all of Mozart's Violin Concertos; conductor William Christie and Les Arts Florissants, performing Idomeneo; the Emerson String Quartet; and the Tallis Scholars. Soloists include violinists Lisa Batiashvili and Joshua Bell and pianists Leon Fleisher and Lars Vogt.
Mostly Mozart was created in 1966, when there was little summer music in New York. "It was quite a radical experiment," Moss said. "Everybody thought Lincoln Center had lost its mind."
For the 40th festival, Moss said, "we wanted to vividly demonstrate Mozart's significance and relevance to the world we live in today."
"My first idea," she laughingly added, "was that we should not perform any Mozart at all"—the model being used by Sellars for his New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna this year. But Langr_e quickly rejected the idea.