COMPOSERS: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart Apollo et Hyacinthus
WORKS: Apollo et Hyacinthus
PERFORMER: Klara Ek, Sophie Bevan, Lawrence Zazzo, Christopher Ainslie, Andrew Kennedy, Marcus Farnsworth, David Shipley; Classical Opera Company/Ian Page
CATALOGUE NO: CKD398
If you discount the ‘sacred singspiel’ Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots, Apollo et Hyacinthus is Mozart’s first opera, written in 1767 when he was just 11 years old. It was commissioned to form lighter musical interludes to be performed during the weightier play The Clemency of Croesus, presented by pupils at the grammar school attached to Salzburg University.
Mozart’s libretto, in Latin, adapts the story of the god Apollo and the youth Hyacinthus, killed with a blow from a discus thrown by the jealous Zephyrus. The gay love triangle of the original myth is disguised in Rufinus Widl’s libretto by the introduction of Hyacinthus’s sister Melia, whom Apollo loves instead.
Either way, it’s a simple story that Mozart tells in a sequence of da capo arias, plus the odd duet, trio or chorus, with continuo-accompanied recitative linking them together. It’s an astonishing piece for an 11 year-old, of course, though not in the same league as Mozart’s mature works.
The Classical Opera Company principals do very nicely by it. Tenor Andrew Kennedy, sopranos Sophie Bevan and Klara Ek and countertenor Lawrence Zazzo are all excellent, and Ian Page’s band is neat and stylish.