Betulia liberata (Mozart 22)

Written in spring 1771, "Betulia Liberata" is an azione sacra, a sacred
play in the style of the Italian oratorio. The libretto takes up the
well-known biblical story of Judith and Holofernes. The Assyrian general
and dictator is laying siege to the Jewish town of Betulia. He has the
town surrounded and its water supplies cut off. While the Prince of
Betulia, Ozias, and religious leaders discuss what to do, the widow Judith
decides to act: she boldly strides into the enemy camp, where she wins
Holofernes' trust, arouses his senses and cuts off his head.
The work was commissioned by Don Giuseppe Ximenes, Prince of Aragon, a
member of a noble Spanish family living in Padua. Years later, in 1784,
Mozart took a renewed interest in the work and planned to use some of its
music for a new oratorio - proof of his satisfaction with music he had
written at 15. The libretto is by Pietro Metastasio (1698-1782), the
leading author of opera and oratorio texts of his day (who also penned the
libretti to Mozart's "Il re pastore," "La clemenza di Tito" and "Il sogno
di Scipione").
"Betulia Liberata" owes much to the composer's early experiences with
opera, especially "Mitridate," and contains some strikingly prophetic
features. One finds the conventional aria types of the opera seria such as
the rage aria and the bravura aria; there are powerful choruses and a
remarkable C minor aria with choral interjections. The work is preceded by
a stormy D minor overture that foreshadows the Sturm und Drang atmosphere
of the "little" G minor Symphony K. 183 of 1773.
As befits an oratorio, the Salzburg production of "Betulia Liberata" is a
semi-staged concert performance. The incisive playing of the Munich
Chamber Orchestra under its early-music-inspired conductor Christoph Poppen
provides the dynamic basis for the homogeneous cast headed by Jeremy
Ovenden as Ozias, a demanding tenor part sung with nimble bravura, Marjana
Mijanovic as a darkly hued and sensual Judith, Franz-Josef Selig as a
profound Alchior and Julia Kleiter as a luminous Amital. Noteworthy is the
rousing vitality of the Chorus of the Vienna State Opera.

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Title: Betulia liberata (Mozart 22)
Conductor: Christoph Poppen
Soloist: Jeremy Ovenden, Marijana Mijanović, Julia Kleiter, Franz-Josef Selig, Irena Bespalovaite, Jennifer Johnston
Orchestra: Münchener Kammerorchester
Chorus: Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor
Video Director: Stefan Aglassinger
Genre: Opera
Length: 129 minutes
Cat.No.: A04001464
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The DVD is also released within the DVD package "Mozart 22 - The complete operas" which is available in selected stores worldwide and through Amazon or JPC.