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Mozart: Apollo et Hyacinthus

Classical Opera

Mozart: Apollo et Hyacinthus

...a work of staggering beauty
CKD 398 (Linn Records)
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Tracks: Listen and Download

Format
Track Time Listen
1
Prologus - I. Intrada

Prologus - I. Intrada

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
02:41 Play $1.70
2
Prologus - II. Recitativo: Amice! iam parata sunt omnia

Prologus - II. Recitativo: Amice! iam parata sunt omnia

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
02:53 Play $1.70
3
Prologus - III. No. 1, Chorus: Numen o Latonium

Prologus - III. No. 1, Chorus: Numen o Latonium

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
04:25 Play $1.70
4
Prologus - IV. Recitativo: Heu me! periimus!

Prologus - IV. Recitativo: Heu me! periimus!

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
01:23 Play $1.70
5
Prologus - V. No. 2, Aria: Saepe terrent Numina

Prologus - V. No. 2, Aria: Saepe terrent Numina

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
07:47 Play $3.40
6
Prologus - VI. Recitativo: Ah Nate! vera loqueris

Prologus - VI. Recitativo: Ah Nate! vera loqueris

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
03:04 Play $1.70
7
Prologus - VII. No. 3, Aria: Iam pastor Apollo

Prologus - VII. No. 3, Aria: Iam pastor Apollo

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
03:45 Play $1.70
8
Chorus 1 - I. Recitativo: Amare numquid Filia

Chorus 1 - I. Recitativo: Amare numquid Filia

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
01:49 Play $1.70
9
Chorus 1 - II. No. 4, Aria: Laetari, iocari

Chorus 1 - II. No. 4, Aria: Laetari, iocari

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
06:38 Play $3.40
10
Chorus 1 - III. Recitativo: Rex! de salute Filii

Chorus 1 - III. Recitativo: Rex! de salute Filii

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
05:22 Play $3.40
11
Chorus 1 - IV. No. 5, Aria: En! duos conspicis

Chorus 1 - IV. No. 5, Aria: En! duos conspicis

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
03:08 Play $1.70
12
Chorus 1 - V. Recitativo: Heu! Numen! ecce!

Chorus 1 - V. Recitativo: Heu! Numen! ecce!

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
02:05 Play $1.70
13
Chorus 1 - VI. No. 6, Duetto: Discede crudelis!

Chorus 1 - VI. No. 6, Duetto: Discede crudelis!

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
06:21 Play $3.40
14
Chorus 2 - I. Recitativo accompagnato: Non est – Quis ergo Nate!

Chorus 2 - I. Recitativo accompagnato: Non est – Quis ergo Nate!

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
02:35 Play $1.70
15
Chorus 2 - II. No. 7, Aria: Ut navis in aequore

Chorus 2 - II. No. 7, Aria: Ut navis in aequore

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
06:16 Play $3.40
16
Chorus 2 - III. Recitativo: Quocumque me converto

Chorus 2 - III. Recitativo: Quocumque me converto

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
02:56 Play $1.70
17
Chorus 2 - IV. No. 8, Duetto: Natus cadit, atque Deus

Chorus 2 - IV. No. 8, Duetto: Natus cadit, atque Deus

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
05:41 Play $3.40
18
Chorus 2 - V. Recitativo: Rex! me redire cogit

Chorus 2 - V. Recitativo: Rex! me redire cogit

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
04:49 Play $1.70
19
Chorus 2 - VI. No. 9, Terzetto: Tandem post turbida fulmina

Chorus 2 - VI. No. 9, Terzetto: Tandem post turbida fulmina

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Ian Page
Band Classical Opera
02:45 Play $1.70
Total Running Time 76 minutes Purchase all tracks 
$13.00 
Prices shown in US Dollars

Following its successful full length opera, ‘Artaxerxes', Classical Opera return with the first in an epic series of Mozart operas ‘Apollo et Hyacinthus'.

The SACD layer is both 5.1 channel and 2-channel. The Studio Master files are 192kHz or 96kHz / 24 bit.                        

Download includes - cover art, inlay, booklet
Classical Opera

Classical Opera

Classical Opera was founded in 1997 by conductor Ian Page. It specialises in the music of Mozart and his contemporaries, performing with its own period-instrument orchestra, and is emerging as one of Britain's most exciting and highly regarded young arts organisations.
profile & recordings >>
Lawrence Zazzo

Lawrence Zazzo

The American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo is one of the most outstanding singers of his generation.
profile & recordings >>
Sophie Bevan

Sophie Bevan

Sophie Bevan is an award-winning young soprano who has performed with Classical Opera, English National Opera and Garsington Opera.
profile & recordings >>
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart is one of the most enduringly popular classical composers. He is responsible for over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music.
profile & recordings >>

Named in The Guardian as one of 'The Best Classical albums of 2012'.

Classical Opera has mounted two staged productions of Mozart's Apollo et Hyacinthus (1998 and 2006), with both receiving wide critical acclaim; The Independent stated, 'Classical Opera's polished debut in Apollo et Hyacinthus proved a pearl beyond price.  Here was a work of staggering beauty riddled with sweet noises like Caliban's enchanted isle.'

This recording has been eagerly awaited since its 2007 debut CD, ‘The A-Z of Mozart Opera' was released, described by David Vickers in Gramophone as ‘glorious...fresh, diverse, insightful and illuminating'.  The company features a mix of seasoned and young performers including Sophie Bevan and Lawrence Zazzo in the title roles.

Click here to watch an exclusive behind the scenes video.

Click here to read the booklet notes in German, French or Italian.

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791)
APOLLO ET HYACINTHUS, K.38
Latin intermedium in three parts (1767)
Libretto by RUFINUS WIDL (1731-1798)

OEBALUS King of Laconia ANDREW KENNEDY tenor
MELIA daughter of Oebalus KLARA EK soprano
HYACINTHUS son of Oebalus SOPHIE BEVAN soprano
APOLLO guest of Oebalus LAWRENCE ZAZZO countertenor
ZEPHYRUS friend of Hyacinthus CHRISTOPHER AINSLIE countertenor
TWO PRIESTS OF APOLLO MARCUS FARNSWORTH baritone and DAVID SHIPLEY bass
THE ORCHESTRA OF CLASSICAL OPERA
Leader: Matthew Truscott

Continuo: Steven Devine (harpsichord), Joseph Crouch (cello),
Cecelia Bruggemeyer (double bass)

IAN PAGE (conductor)

Apollo et Hyacinthus - an introduction by Ian Page

Apollo et Hyacinthus, which was commissioned by the grammar school attached to Salzburg University and first performed there on 13 May 1767, was Mozart's first opera. It was written when he was eleven years old. It is of course truly astonishing that anyone could write an opera of such quality at such an age, but in some ways the achievement is unsurprising, given how extraordinary Mozart's childhood had already been up to that point.

By the time Mozart returned to Salzburg in November 1766, following his Grand Tour of Germany, Belgium, France, England, the Netherlands and Switzerland, he had already composed numerous symphonies, sonatas and arias. He had also performed at many of the leading courts and theatres in Europe, and equally importantly had been able to hear performances of music by many of the most celebrated composers of the day.

Having spent barely a quarter of the previous five years in Salzburg, Mozart was now to remain there for ten consecutive months, and this period proved to be the most important and prolific to date in the young composer's burgeoning career. A recitative and aria written to celebrate the Archbishop of Salzburg's anniversary in December 1766 led to the commission for him to compose the first part of the sacred singspiel Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots, which was performed in the Knights' Hall of the Archbishop's Palace on 12 March 1767, and this was soon followed by the remarkable Passion cantata Grabmusik. Such an imposing portfolio must have been increasingly difficult to ignore, and it was presumably a relatively uncontentious step to commission Mozart to write the music for Apollo et Hyacinthus.

Background

Since 1617 the grammar school attached to Salzburg's Benedictine University had had a tradition of performing an annual Latin play, and in 1661 a theatre equipped with elaborate stage machinery had been erected adjacent to the university's Great Hall. In addition to the annual event in August, individual classes sometimes presented their own productions - indeed the five-year-old Mozart, though not attached to the school, had taken part in a Latin school play there in 1761 - and in May 1767 the third year students at the Gymnasium performed a five-act Latin tragedy, Clementia Croesi (‘The Clemency of Croesus').

This was written by the Professor of Syntax at the university, a Benedictine monk named Rufinus Widl, and was based on a story from Herodotus. King Croesus of Lydia has engaged the exiled Phrygian prince Adrastus to educate his son Atys. In the original story Adrastus kills Atys in a hunting accident and then, overcome by grief, kills himself; Father Widl, though, adapted the plot to suit his pedagogic purposes, and had Adrastus being generously forgiven by Croesus and welcomed into his court.

Over the years it had also become customary for a short musical entertainment or ‘intermedium' to be interpolated within the main play; this was also in Latin, and provided relief from the high-minded didacticism of the main play while at the same time reinforcing its meaning and message. Thus it was that early in 1767 Mozart was commissioned to write the intermedium which was to accompany Clementia Croesi.

The text

The libretto was again by Father Widl, and the subject was the mythological story of Apollo and Hyacinth. In the original story, as told by Ovid, Pausanias and others, Apollo is in love with Hyacinth. While the two are playing discus together, Hyacinth is so impressed by the skill and strength of Apollo's first throw that he enthusiastically runs to pick the discus up as it falls to the ground; as it lands, though, the discus ricochets off a rock and strikes Hyacinth a mortal blow to the head. A grief-stricken Apollo refuses to let Hades claim the boy, and instead creates a flower, the hyacinth, from his spilled blood. Other accounts of the myth add the character of Zephyrus, Apollo's rival for the affections of Hyacinth. In this version, the jealous Zephyrus deliberately blows Apollo's discus off course and causes it to strike Hyacinth.

To reinforce the parallels with the themes of Clementia Croesi, and to make the story more palatable to eighteenth century audiences, Father Widl adapted the plot still further, adding the characters of Melia and Oebalus. Melia becomes the object of Apollo's now heterosexual love, with Zephyrus providing the treachery and deceit which drives the drama forward, while Oebalus is now responsible for banishing the god from his kingdom. In this way the culmination of the opera becomes more about forgiveness and redemption, themes that were to dominate the great operatic masterpieces of Mozart's maturity.

The work was divided into three parts, which were given suitably classical titles: the Prologue was performed before the play, Chorus I after the second act, and Chorus II before the fifth and final act. The opera does not seem to have been given a name at the time (the first surviving reference to a title is from Mozart's sister in 1799), and Leopold Mozart described it in his list of his son's early compositions merely as ‘Music for a Latin Comedy'. Listeners expecting lots of laughs in Apollo et Hyacinthus should remember that such terms are purely relative, and that the work is a ‘comedy' only in that it was designed to offset the tendentious moralizing of Clementia Croesi (which actually begins after Atys has been killed, and takes five acts to debate whether or not Croesus should seek retribution).

The first performance

The members of the original cast were all older than Mozart, but not by much. Apollo was sung by Johann Ernst and Hyacinthus by Christian Enzinger, both twelve-year-old trebles from the cathedral choir. The fifteen-year-old treble Felix Fuchs sang Melia, the only female role, and the Zephyrus was the seventeen-year old Joseph Vonderthon. Oebalus, the only principal role written for a broken voice, was taken by Matthias Stadler, who was twenty-three and a student in Moral Theology and Law at the university; he later became a salaried tenor at the Salzburg court. The two priests, who are not specified in the libretto but would have been required to complete the ensemble for the opening chorus, were taken by Joseph Bründl and Jakob Moser, aged eighteen and sixteen respectively.

Rehearsals began early, and the project was clearly taken seriously by the school authorities, for by late April numerous classes were being cancelled ‘because of the forthcoming comedy'. Both opera and play were performed on the afternoon of 13 May 1767, and according to the Gymnasium's minutes the performance ‘pleased everybody'. After it had finally ended, the young Mozart spent the evening entertaining the assembled company on the harpsichord, ‘giving us notable examples of his musical art'.

The music

Apollo et Hyacinthus displays remarkable maturity, individuality and virtuosity, and there are constant reminders that the eleven-year-old composer had already written a substantial and impressive body of works. The opera's orchestral introduction was entitled ‘intrada' rather than the usual ‘sinfonia' or ‘overture', presumably to reflect its brevity and modesty of scale, but its charm and vivacity provide an auspicious start to the composer's operatic canon. It also features divided violas, a favourite device of the young Mozart which recurs in five of the nine subsequent numbers. The chorus which follows the opening recitative possesses an austere grandeur and formality reminiscent of Gluck, and there is a genuine sense of devotion and sincerity in the music.

Each character has one aria, and even at such a young age Mozart has an unerring ability to create characters with real and heartfelt emotions. The word-painting and use of the orchestra to heighten meaning and atmosphere are already highly accomplished, although this is always achieved with the playfulness of a child discovering a new toy. Thus Hyacinthus' aria is full of orchestral outbursts illustrating how the gods alternately threaten us and smile on us, while Oebalus' aria at the beginning of the final act is a wonderfully vivid evocation of the mourning father's anger and despair, with flashing violin scales magnificently capturing the turbulent sea imagery. Zephyrus' aria is admirably sparse and sinister, the string texture reduced to a chromatic unison as he asks Melia which of her two admirers she favours, while in Apollo's aria Mozart resists the temptation to provide him with vocal pyrotechnics, instead focusing on the character's pastoral disguise in a number notable for its bucolic elegance and understatement; gods, after all, are not accustomed to having to prove themselves. Meanwhile Melia's aria, in which she rejoices at the news of her imminent marriage to Apollo, has a vivacious virtuosity not dissimilar to Morgana's ‘Tornami a vagheggiar' from Handel's Alcina - the twelve-year-old who created the role must have been unusually accomplished.

No less remarkable is the duet between Melia and Apollo, in which the opposing strands of Melia's venomous hatred and Apollo's placating calmness are able to coexist within the same music. But the emotional climax of the score is surely the duet between Oebalus and Melia. Mozart's fledgling genius is already apparent in the beauty not only of the melody but also of the scoring: muted first violins, lapping violas and pizzicato second violins, cello and bass are gently supported by horns, creating an exquisite texture over which father and daughter lament their plight. It forms the centrepiece of a final act in which we are entirely able to forget that this is the work of an eleven-year-old, and to savour the glories of an opera which would justify occasional revival even if its creator had been four times the age when he wrote it.

A short note on performance practice

Two specific aspects of interpretation and performance practice featured in this recording of Apollo et Hyacinthus are perhaps worthy of a few words.

The first concerns the pronunciation of the Latin text. We have no record or documentary evidence of how Mozart wanted Latin to be pronounced, but the choice is essentially between Germanic and Italianate. Having consulted a number of scholars and Latin specialists it became a relatively straightforward decision to opt for the latter. With an entirely non-German cast it seemed a rather pedantic and restrictive form of authenticity to perform the whole work with a German accent. Far more important to me, beyond the obvious need for consistency, was to try to convey the beauty and communicative power of the Latin, and to deliver it as if it were still a living language. As well as being the natural successor to Latin, Italian remained the primary language for opera throughout Mozart's lifetime (this was due not only to opera's geographical origins but also to the language's lyrical flow and ‘singability'), and even at the age of eleven he was already steeped in the Italian vocal tradition. It therefore seemed to make sense for us to use this tradition as the basis for our pronunciation.

The second aspect of performance practice relates to the continuo realisation of the recitative. Although it has tended to be ignored in historically informed modern performances, there is in fact plenty of documentary evidence that throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the cello, as well as the harpsichord or fortepiano, played spread chords in recitative, with the double bass providing the bass line (Charles Baudiot's Méthode pour le violoncelle, which dates from the early nineteenth century, even provides a fascinating musical example of how arpeggiated cello chords should be applied to a recitative from Act Two of Don Giovanni). Our principal cellist, Joseph Crouch, was recently awarded a research fellowship by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to study this practice of chord-playing in recitative, and we have applied the fruits of his work in several projects now, in operas ranging from Arne's Artaxerxes to Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. It may take the unaccustomed ear a while to acclimatise to this unfamiliar style and sound world, but to my mind the beauties and benefits are compelling.

Synopsis

The opera is set in Laconia (Lacemaedonia) in ancient Greece.

Prologue

Hyacinthus, with the help of his friend Zephyrus, is making the final preparations for a sacrifice which has been ordered by his father, King Oebalus, in honour of the god Apollo. As storm clouds gather, Oebalus orders the sacrificial fire to be lit, and the people offer their prayers to Apollo.

Their offering is seemingly rejected when lightning destroys the altar and extinguishes the fire, but Hyacinthus, suspecting that the wrath of the gods has in fact been aroused by Zephyrus' earlier words of disrespect, offers comfort and encouragement to his father. Suddenly, Apollo himself appears, in the guise of a shepherd, having been banished from the heavens after an altercation with Jupiter. Melia is instantly enchanted by him, and the god assures Oebalus that their prayers will be answered.

Chorus I

While Apollo, Hyacinthus and Zephyrus are throwing the discus together, Oebalus tells Melia that Apollo wishes to marry her. Melia rejoices in her great fortune and happiness, and rapturously anticipates being treated like a goddess. Zephyrus, though, rushes in to announce that Hyacinthus is dead. He has been killed during the discus game, and Zephyrus, although guilty of the murder himself, blames the crime on Apollo. Astounded, Oebalus goes in search of the god.

Zephyrus insists that Apollo is evil, and tries to persuade Melia to marry him instead, but Apollo soon arrives. He punishes Zephyrus for his treachery by transforming him into a wind and having him dragged off to Aeolus' cave. Still believing Apollo to be the murderer of her brother, Melia sees this act of retribution as further evidence of Apollo's volatility and wickedness, and the two argue.

Chorus II

On the banks of the river Eurotas, Oebalus has discovered his son still alive. With his final words Hyacinthus tells Oebalus that it was Zephyrus, not Apollo, who killed him. Oebalus swears vengeance, his emotions fluctuating turbulently between anger and grief. Melia arrives to report that she has followed her father's orders and banished Apollo from the kingdom. As they realise the truth, they express their anguish and fear at how they have wronged the god.

Apollo returns, however, and expresses his love for Hyacinthus by transforming the boy's dead body into a bank of flowers which will bear his name forever. He forgives Oebalus and Melia, and reaffirms his wish to marry Melia and stay with them on earth. After all the storms and sorrows, peace and joy finally reign.

Ian Page

Performance Material: New Mozart Edition (NMA)
by kind permission of Bärenreiter-Verlag
Kassel · Basel · London · New York · Praha

Recorded at Blackheath Halls, London, UK from 13th to 15th August 2011
Produced and engineered by Philip Hobbs
Recording Assistant: Robert Cammidge
Post-production by Julia Thomas, Finesplice, UK
Design by Nick Trivuncic
Cover image by Debbie Coates
Recording session photography by Dr Stephen Page, www.fatkoala.biz

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15 June 2012
Enjoy performances from Sophie Bevan, Robin Ticciati, Benjamin Grosvenor, Daniel Barenboim and Eric Whitacre.
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01 May 2012
singer named Breakthrough Award winner
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thomasmusic.net
'The singers are consistently good'
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The Guardian
Chosen as one of Stephen Pritchard's picks for the best of 2012


American Record Guide
'They all do their best to bring the score to life.'
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Golem Magazine
Translation from Italian review: 'the execution is crisp, full of moods and colors.'
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MusicWeb International
'What a wonderful achievement for a boy hardly old enough to attend the grammar school for which the entertainment was intended'.
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Pizzicato
4 Stars
'...d'une interpretation de très bonne qualité.'
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Audiophile Audition
5 Stars
'sparkles from beginning to end...This has to be in any serious Mozart collection.'
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Opera
'Ian Page's direction of Apollo carries rich promise of his ability to deliver a valuable contribution to historically-informed Mozart opera performance.'
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The Independent
'scintillating'
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resmusica.com
Review in French.
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MusicWeb International
Recording of the Month: 'I cannot imagine a better start to Linn's intended series of recordings of Mozart's operas by Classical Opera.'
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ClassicsToday.com
'A highly recommendable bauble'.
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Gramophone
'first-rate singing'
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The Observer
'Ian Page, setting out on an epic Mozart series for Linn, conducts a top cast...with the crisp and alert Classical Opera orchestra...'
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Classical Music Magazine
'...a young, well-nigh perfect cast of singers...'
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Opera Now
4 Stars
'Ek and Bevan lead an outstanding cast...'
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BBC Music Magazine
4 Stars
'...all excellent, and Ian Page's band is neat and stylish.'
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SA-CD.net
5 Stars
'An auspicious & thrilling start to what will surely prove to be an historic recording project.'
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The Independent
'gracefully regal'
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