LA Opera Music Director James Conlon’s world premiere recording of composer John Corigliano and librettist William M. Hoffman’s The Ghosts of Versailles, released on the PentaTone label, won two 2017 Grammy® Awards for Best Opera Recording and Best Engineered Album, Classical.
Patricia Racette as the title character in Salome (2015) at Opera San Antonio; Photo: Karen Almond
Arriving on the heels of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio in our season, it is difficult to compare these totally different works without reflecting on how the world had changed. European civilization was sitting on a fault line when Richard Strauss wrote Salome. Strauss, who placed “the miracle Mozart, immediately after Bach,” could not turn to the latter for operatic prototypes, but found immeasurable inspiration in Mozart’s operas.
A scene from James Robinson’s “Orient Express” production of The Abduction from the Seraglio; Photo: George Hixson / Houston Grand Opera
“Nothing is as ugly as vengeance, whereas the quality of great souls is to be humanely kind and forgive without selfishness.” (Act III, The Abduction from the Seraglio*)
In the final months of his life, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart completed two operas, written simultaneously in 1791: The Magic Flute, a German Singspiel (“singing play”) alternating musical numbers with spoken dialogue; and La Clemenza di Tito (The Clemency of Titus), an Italian opera seria. He might just as well have given his earlier Singspiel, 1782’s The Abduction from Seraglio, a different title: The Clemency of Pasha Selim. After all, the planned abduction fails to materialize. And of the many issues addressed in this work, the rejection of vengeance and the power of forgiveness are at its center, embodied in the person of Pasha Selim.