Mozart: The Early Operas, Il Re Pastore

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Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Artists: Johanette Zomer (Aminta), Francine van der Heijden (Elisa), Marcel Reijans (Agenore), Musica ad Rhenum, Jed Wentz (conductor)
In addition to his mastery of instrumental and sacred works, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is one of the most celebrated operatic writers in music history. In Il rè pastore, a relatively early opera from the then nineteen-year-old composer, we see the beginnings of genius in a man who was later to become a true master of the genre.

Il rè pastore was commissioned in 1775 for the visit of Austria’s Archduke Maximilian Franz to Salzburg. Written in just six weeks, the opera is based on a libretto by Pietro Metastasio in which Alexander the Great (Alessandro) discovers that young shepherd Aminta is the rightful heir to the throne, taking it upon himself to restore the boy to power. Regardless of the composer’s youth, several moments in the opera show hints of the more mature Mozart, including the aria ‘L’amerò sarò costante’ in which rippling strings and lush orchestration are combined with a poignant, yearning vocal line. Another highlight is the glorious ensemble finale of Act II, a feature that would become a vital characteristic of Mozart’s later operas.

Musica ad Rhenum has earned a special place in the early music world, with critics describing the ensemble’s performances as ‘cutting-edge’ and ‘exhilarating’. The group are joined by a fantastic set of vocal soloists, with Johanette Zomer assuming the role of Aminta and Alexei Gregoriev playing Alexander the Great.

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