The staging will be by acclaimed director Melly Still. Page has masterminded a final act using Mozart’s own music and has commissioned poet Michael Symmons Roberts and playwright Ben Power to create the libretto. Mozart’s remarkable opera is seldom performed, due to its unfinished nature but this completion will enable a rare dramatic realisation in a fully-staged production.
Mozart started Zaide in 1779 when he was a young man of 23 and desperate to escape the constraints of life in Salzburg, which he described as a prison. He was frustrated by the lack of regular opportunities to write opera, and commenced Zaide regardless of a commission. Having written the first two acts, including the celebrated aria “Ruhe sanft”, Mozart set it aside when he received the commission for Idomeneo. The music for Zaide reveals a new maturity, and the composer himself held it in high regard. However, fearing the work was too serious for Viennese tastes, he left the score unfinished.
70 minutes of music survive but both the score and the story are incomplete. Although the music was linked by spoken dialogue rather than sung recitatives, none of this text survives. To complete the opera, Page has chosen to use music written by Mozart during the same period as Zaide to give the completion musical consistency. He explains:
“The opera’s themes - tyranny, imprisonment, abuse of power and the power of love - are eternal ones, and we aim to create a piece of and for today which at the same times remains true to the spirit and legacy of Mozart. Like Shakespeare before him, Mozart was able to create a world which, despite the depth and acuteness of its pain and suffering, ultimately offers a compassionate, forgiving and uplifting vision of hope.”
Zaide plays from Thursday 24 June to Saturday 26 June and will be followed by a tour to Sheffield, Bath, Buxton. The cast is headed by the up-and-coming young South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza, a recent Jette Parker Young Artist at the Royal Opera House, and rising Australian tenor Andrew Goodwin as Gomatz. Former ENO young artist William Berger sings the role of Allazim, with Mark Le Brocq as Soliman. Simon Lobelson plays Osmin and Amy Freston, acclaimed for her work at Glyndebourne and Opera North, creates the role of Perseda.
Following the Sadler’s Wells run, Classical Opera Company will see the release of a CD of their Artaxerxes production, in conjunction with Linn Records. The release is due on 4 October 2010.