Classical Opera’s MOZART 250 is an epic project which travels 250 years back in time to follow the chronological trajectory of Mozart’s life, works and influences. From January 2015, the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s childhood visit to London, during which he composed his first significant works, MOZART 250 will follow Mozart’s journey, culminating in the year 2041, the 250th anniversary of his death.
“It is hard to think of a more valuable or ambitious long term musical project than Ian Page and Classical Opera’s MOZART 250.”
EARLY MUSIC REVIEW
This year has seen a concert celebrating the year 1770, and a three-day mini-festival exploring Mozart’s time in Italy. We also look forward to a new production of Mitridate, re di Ponto in November of this year.
9 January 2020, 7.30pm — Wigmore Hall, London
Ian Page’s visionary MOZART 250 project continues to build a widespread and highly enthusiastic following. The sixth year of this ground-breaking series began with this diverse and illuminating overview of the musical year 1770, featuring dramatically charged minor-keys symphonies by Vanhal and Johann Christian Bach and arias and duets by Gluck, Haydn and Mozart. The two outstanding young soloist were soprano Samantha Clarke and mezzo-soprano Ida Ränzlöv.
6-8 March 2020 — Cadogan Hall
Following the company’s acclaimed ‘Mozart in London’ weekend in 2015, MOZART 250 continued with a three-day mini-festival at Cadogan Hall exploring the music that Mozart composed and heard in Italy during the course of 1770.
26 November 2020, 7.00pm — Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre
It’s the 250th anniversary of the 14-year-old Mozart’s ambitious opera, Mitridate, re di Ponto. First heard at the Teatro Regio Ducale in Milan on 26 December 1770, the composition of this opera marked the end of Mozart’s first trip to Italy, as well as the first operatic success of a composer still a month short of his 15th birthday. The opera is based on Racine’s tragedy Mithridate, and with it the young Mozart displays stunning virtuosity, insight and beauty.
In 2019, we presented a wide-ranging survey of the musical year 1769, as well as a selection of fascinating operas from Hasse and Gluck, based on tales from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
1769: A Year in Music
29 January 2019, 7.30pm – Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre
The fifth year of MOZART 250 launched with this fascinating and wide-ranging survey of the musical scene in 1769. Works by Mozart, including a recently rediscovered concert aria, were placed alongside the first movement of a symphony by Mozart’s father, arias from Thomas Arne’s Shakespeare Ode, and highlights from operas by Paisiello, Haydn, Grétry and Gluck. The concert closed with Haydn’s magnificent ‘Maria Theresia’ symphony, one of the greatest and most exciting of his middle-period works.
Hasse: Piramo e Tisbe
28 March 2019, 7.30pm – Cadogan Hall, London
Following the great success of our performance of an aria from Hasse’s Piramo e Tisbe in January 2018, we went on to present the UK première of the complete opera, a fascinating and highly unusual intermezzo based on a tragic tale from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Composed in 1768 and revived in 1770, it was regarded by the composer as the best of his sixty-two operas, and it differs radically from his previous works, incorporating and developing many of Gluck’s operatic reforms in music of sumptuous lyricism and pathos.
Gluck: Bauci e Filemone, Orfeo
29 & 31 May 2019, 7.30pm – Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre
In May 2019, we returned to Southbank Centre with an enchanting pair of one-act Gluck operas based on stories recounted by Ovid — hailed by the BBC as “the world’s greatest story-teller” — in his celebrated Metamorphoses. Both originally formed part of Le feste d’Apollo, a triple bill composed for a royal wedding in Parma in August 1769.
In 2018, we turned to historical documentation and scholarly research to inform a rich and varied programme of music from the year 1768, culminating in the modern première of the original version of Mozart’s Bastien und Bastienne.
23 January 2018, 7.30pm – Wigmore Hall, London
Ian Page and The Mozartists returned to Wigmore Hall for a diverse and illuminating overview of the musical year 1768. Dramatically charged D minor symphonies by Haydn and Vanhal frame a charming flute concerto by ‘the London Bach’ and a fascinating selection of arias sung by the outstanding young Swiss-Belgian soprano Chiara Skerath.
15 March 2018, 7.30pm – Cadogan Hall, London
This one-act cantata was commissioned as an act of homage to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Abbot Rainer Kollman of the Cistercian monastery in Zwettl taking his vows. Haydn composed the work in early 1768 but was unable to travel to Zwettl to supervise its performance; he therefore wrote a letter giving detailed instructions of how his music should be performed, and this document has survived, providing fascinating practical information and insights into eighteenth-century performance practice.
2 June 2018, 7.30pm – Birmingham Town Hall
6 & 8 June 2018, 7.00pm – Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre
Written when the composer was just twelve years old, the opera is based on a sparkling comedy by Carlo Goldoni, and combines situations of great comic invention and genuine humour with music of extrordinary beauty, energy and psychological insight. Ian Page directed a superb international cast of world-class young singers, headed by the rapidly emerging Swiss soprano Regula Mühlemann, whose solo recording contract with Sony Classical was recently launched with a highly acclaimed disc of Mozart arias.
18 September 2018, 7.30pm – Wigmore Hall, London
The opening concert of Classical Opera’s 2018/19 culminated with the modern première of the original version of Mozart’s Bastien und Bastienne, based on research developed since the relatively recent rediscovery of Mozart’s autograph manuscript. This performance coincided with the UK release of our new recording of the work.
In 2017, we looked back to Mozart’s eleven-year-old self, with productions of his first two stage works, early keyboard sonatas, and a retrospective concert exploring his music alongside that of his contemporaries.
17 January 2017, 7.30pm – Wigmore Hall, London
The third year of Classical Opera’s MOZART 250 launched with this fascinating musical overview of 1767, featuring a thrilling line-up of young soloists and Classical Opera’s dynamic period-instrument orchestra. The concert included Mozart’s Symphony No. 6 and his cantata, Grabmusik, alongside works by his contemporaries J. C. Bach, Gluck, Haydn, Abel and Arne.
21 March 2017, 7.30pm – St John’s Smith Square
In March 2017, Classical Opera presented a rare new production of Mozart’s first stage work, composed when he was just eleven years old. Mozart’s score represents the first part of a three-part sacred drama which was performed in Salzburg in 1767, but the two remaining parts are lost. The music is full of tender beauty, dynamism and descriptive flair, and the young composer’s innate understanding and sympathy for the human condition already shine through.
Award-winning fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout, one of the most acclaimed musicians of his generation, joined Ian Page and Classical Opera to perform Mozart’s earliest keyboard concertos. Composed in the summer of 1767, these works were initially believed to be Mozart’s own compositions, but have since been identified as orchestrations of existing eighteenth-century sonatas. As such, they offer fascinating insights into the eleven-year-old Mozart’s development as a composer.
12 & 13 June 2017, 7.30pm – St John’s Smith Square
Classical Opera returned to St John’s Smith Square with a new production of Mozart’s delightful Apollo et Hyacinthus, the second of his two stage works from 1767. The opera was sung in Latin, and is based on a colourful story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Mozart was only eleven years old when he wrote this remarkable work, but the music is astonishingly accomplished, frequently anticipating the wonders of his maturity. The opera was preceded by a staging of the superb dramatic cantata Grabmusik, and the cast included Benjamin Hulett, Klara Ek, Gemma Summerfield, Tim Mead, James Hall and Benjamin Appl.
Following the triumphant launch of MOZART 250, we continued our unique traversal of the musical scene 250 years ago with a fascinating programme of works dating from 1766.
19 January 2016, 7.30pm – Wigmore Hall, London
The repertoire performed in our retrospective concert was surprisingly varied and wide-ranging, including works composed in Holland by the ten-year-old Mozart during the return leg of his Grand Tour. It also featured works composed in Ludwigsburg, Vienna, Eisenstadt, Venice, Bordeaux and London, ranging from intriguing operatic rarities by Jommelli and Guglielmi to dynamic symphonic repertoire by Vanhal and Franz Ignaz Beck.
28 April 2016, 7.30pm – Cadogan Hall, London
In May 2016, we presented the UK premiére of Niccolò Jommelli’s Il Vologeso, first performed 250 years ago on 11 February 1766 for the Stuttgart court in Ludwigsburg. For this eagerly awaited performance Classical Opera assembled a superb young cast, headed by the Irish mezzo-soprano Rachel Kelly, a recent graduate of the Royal Opera’s Jette Parker Young Artist Programme, tenor Stuart Jackson, a Classical Opera Associate Artist, and soprano Gemma Lois Summerfield, winner of the 2015 Kathleen Ferrier Award.
8 September 2016, 7.30pm – Schloss Esterhazy, Eisenstadt, Austria
19 September 2016, 7.30pm – Wigmore Hall, London
This programme was formed of works written in 1766 by Haydn and Josef Mysliveček, known after his death as ‘the divine Bohemian’. Four dynamic arias from Mysliveček’s first opera were framed by two contrasting Haydn works – a superbly crafted symphony and a vivacious comedy about love, deception and singing lessons.
MOZART 250 launched in 2015 with the first ever in-depth retrospective of Mozart’s childhood visit to London, during which he wrote his first symphonies and arias.
22 January 2015, 7.30pm, Wigmore Hall, London
Mozart 250 began in 2015, the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s childhood sojourn in London, and launched with this fascinating retrospective of the year 1765. The programme featured music written in London, Paris, Vienna, Eisenstadt, Naples and The Hague, and included Mozart’s first symphony and concert arias.
Mozart in London
Friday 20 to Sunday 22 February 2015, Milton Court, London.
Classical Opera celebrated the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s childhood stay in London with an immersive weekend of related concerts and talks at Milton Court. Mozart arrived in London in April 1764 as a uniquely talented eight-year-old, and he and his family stayed for fifteen months. This weekend of events was the first major exploration of this important visit, and as well as all the key works that Mozart composed during the period it featured a vibrant cross-section of music that was being performed in London during his stay, some of which had not been heard since the eighteenth century. In addition to the five main concerts the weekend included a series of talks, led by leading Mozart scholar Cliff Eisen, and live foyer music.
Friday 20 February
Saturday 21 February
Sunday 22 February
14, 16, 18 April 2015, 7.00pm, Britten Theatre, London
The première of Johann Christian Bach’s Adriano in Siria took place at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket on 26 January 1765, the eve of Mozart’s ninth birthday, and attracted such a large audience that scarcely a third of those assembled were able to get seats. Classical Opera’s new production saw the first staging of the opera in modern times, and mirrored the music’s classical elegance, rarefied simplicity and lyrical beauty.