Ian Bostridge Calls Mozart Tenor Roles 'Boring'

Classic Arts News   Ian Bostridge Calls Mozart Tenor Roles 'Boring'
It's a brave man who dares criticize Mozart in an anniversary year, when marketing frenzy reaches fever pitch and even major airlines dutifully pay homage. But writing in the London Guardian today, tenor Ian Bostridge diplomatically suggests that some of the composer's tenor roles are, well, "boring."

"When do people get bored in the Marriage of Figaro, otherwise one of the most miraculously satisfying works in the western canon?" Bostridge asks. "When the irritating minor character [tenor] Basilio, a small-town Machiavelli of a singing teacher, insists on singing his aria in the final act, delaying the denouement and spoiling the fun."

Bostridge says it's the same with Die Entf‹hrung aus dem Serail, where Belmonte's beautiful but "dramatically inert" arias hinder the dramatic structure.

But it's the "passivity" of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni that particularly frustrates Bostridge. He does point out, however, that this is less Mozart's fault than the eagerness of opera producers to get the most out of high-priced tenors by insisting they sing several arias. Mozart only intended Ottavio to sing "Dalla Sua Pace"; it is "Il Mio Tesoro" in the second act that Bostridge calls "a piece of exquisite time-wasting...it sounds like a beautiful and irrelevant serenade."

Idomeneo, whose "arias always seem to emerge from the drama, to amplify and intensify it, aided by the brilliant accompanied recitatives that precede them and weave them into the musical-dramatic structure," is Bostridge's favorite Mozart role.

Bostridge will be appearing in a production of Don Giovanni at the Vienna State Opera later this year. He will also be singing Mozart arias in a Hamburg recital.

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