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Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus: Mitridate, re di Ponto
Act 1: Aria, “Parto: Nel gran cimento” (Sifare)
Aria Talk •
Editor's Note: Aria Talk focuses not on the tried-and-true pieces you undoubtedly already know, but on somewhat off-the-beaten-track arias. The hope is that this music will prove a refreshing musical and interpretive change not only for you, the performer, but also for those hearing you in auditions.
Mitridate, the finest opera ever written by a fourteen-year-old, is an excellent choice if you’re ready to give “Come scoglio” a rest but would like florid Mozart to remain on your list. The noble Sifare presents a refreshing change in that this is a trouser role for a Mozart soprano rather than mezzo, hence a nice challenge for your dramatic versatility.
Sifare is the son of Mitridate (Mithridates), King of the ancient Hellenic kingdom of Pontus. Sifare’s own loyalty is to Mitridate and the Greeks, while his brother Farnace sides with the Romans, who have just defeated Mitridate. The Greek princess Aspasia is betrothed to the king but his sons love her, too. When she begs Sifare to protect her from Farnace’s advances, Sifare declares his true feelings. His father, thought dead in battle, now unexpectedly returns.
Apprehensively Sifare goes to greet him, saying to Farnace that in facing a confrontation with Mitridate, he will be both a brother and a son. He exhorts Farnace to do what he thinks best and declares that his own fate will equal the peril faced by Farnace himself.
You need a solid one and a half octaves for this piece (although the two notated high Bs are only touched briefly). Its sections alternate between andante adagio and allegro, the former fairly brief but requiring extremely firm control and exceptional sensitivity. In the allegro the runs are twice as abundant and even more difficult than the better-known “Parto” from Mozart’s Clemenza di Tito.
Recording: Edita Gruberova in complete recording, Philips # 422529; Cecilia Bartoli in complete recording, Decca # 289 460 772-2
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