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During the Mozart family’s visit to London in 1764/65, the eight-year-old Wolfgang composed his first symphonies and arias, and heard a vast array of music by other composers. The concerts in Classical Opera’s Mozart in London will feature many of these works, and include performances from sopranos Ana Maria Labin, Rebecca Bottone, Sarah-Jane Brandon, Anna Devin, Martene Grimson and Eleanor Dennis; mezzo-sopranos Helen Sherman and Samantha Price; and tenors Robert Murray and Ben Johnson. The weekend will also feature talks by leading Mozart scholar Cliff Eisen, historian Daniel Snowman, and author of Georgian London: Into the Streets, Lucy Inglis; and a panel discussion with Cliff Eisen, Ian Page and musicologist David Vickers, chaired by BBC Radio 3’s Andrew McGregor.

Complementing the Mozart in London weekend there is a British Library Lecture Series, as well as a collaboration with the Museum of London offering learning opportunities for young people from two primary schools. Following the Mozart in London weekend, MOZART 250’s opening season continues with the first staging in modern times of J.C. Bach’s Adriano in Siria. Thomas Guthrie directs, and Ian Page conducts a thrilling young cast headed by sopranos Ellie Laugharne and Erica Eloff, mezzo-soprano Rowan Hellier and tenor Stuart Jackson.

Ian Page, Founder and Artistic Director of Classical Opera said: “It is hugely exciting to be planning the first major retrospective of Mozart’s childhood visit to London. What we hope will emerge is a celebration not only of Mozart’s youthful influences and achievements but also of the musical life of the city at a particularly rich point in its history. Much of the music – by English, Italian and German composers living and working in London at the time – will be receiving its first public performance since the 18th century, and it is surprisingly accomplished and beautiful. The premise of MOZART 250 offers us a wonderful opportunity to contextualise and enrich our appreciation of such a significant and formative period in Mozart’s life, and to paint a vivid and dynamic portrait of Georgian London in the 1760s.”

Saturday 21 February 2015

The Museum of London presents ‘Exploring Mozart’s London’ at 11am and 12pm on Saturday 21st February; two specially devised tours of the Museum of London’s ‘Expanding City’ collection, in which members of the public can find out more about the London that Mozart would have experienced, and its influence on his life and early works.

At 1.30pm at Milton Court, BBC Radio 3’s Andrew McGregor chairs a discussion on Mozart in London, with Cliff Eisen, Ian Page and David Vickers, offering fascinating insights into Mozart’s time in the capital in 1764/65. This is followed at 3pm by a concert of highlights from the English operas that were performed at the Theatre Royal Covent Garden, and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane during Mozart’s time in London. The concert will feature overtures, arias, duets and trios from works by Thomas Arne, George Rush, Michael Arne, Jonathan Battishill and William Bates.

Historian Daniel Snowman will give a talk, A Night at the Opera in Mozart’s London, at 6.15pm in Milton Court, followed by a concert exploring the Italian opera in Mozart’s London. Looking at the Italian Opera Company’s 1764/65 season at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, Classical Opera will explore the roles that three of the most celebrated singers of the day, soprano Teresa Scotti and the castrati Ferdinando Tenducci and Giovanni Manzuoli, performed during Mozart’s visit. Three of the five operas from which music survives were pasticcio operas – operas which used music by a number of different composers – and arias and duets from these (Ezio, Berenice, and Solimano) are performed, alongside music from J.C. Bach’s Adriano in Siria and Matteo Vento’s Demofoonte.

Sunday 22 February 2015

At 11.30am at Milton Court, distinguished Mozart scholar, fortepianist and harpsichordist John Irving explores Mozart’s ‘Chelsea Notebook’, the set of 43 compositional sketches that Mozart wrote during his stay in Chelsea in 1764. This is followed at 1.45pm by a talk on Georgian London by Lucy Inglis, author of Georgian London: Into the Streets, a fascinating look at this formative era in the city’s history.

At 3pm, the final concert of the weekend looks at London concert life in 1765. Music by the nine-year-old Mozart is presented alongside works by two German composers who were an important influence on the young Mozart’s work, J.C. Bach and Carl Friedrich Abel, and who in 1765 established the famous Bach-Abel concert series, which provided the template for the modern classical concert.

British Library Lecture Series

Complementing Classical Opera’s Mozart in London weekend is a fascinating series of illustrated talks by Cliff Eisen at the British Library, presenting three different facets of Mozart’s stay in London in dialogue with other experts. On 6 February he is joined by Ian Page and harpsichordist Steven Devine to explore the music of Mozart’s London in a talk entitled Made in Chelsea; on 13 February, Cliff Eisen and Lucy Inglis present All that Life Can Afford, an exploration of London in 1765; and on 2 March the London Pleasure Gardens are the subject of a lecture-recital by Cliff Eisen and Steven Devine, with soprano Kate Semmens.

Mozart at the Museum

Classical Opera is collaborating with the Museum of London to offer learning opportunities around Mozart in London. In October 2104, Year 4 and 5 (aged 8-10) children from two schools – Holy Trinity Primary School, Sloane Square, and Marlborough Primary School, Draycott Avenue – spent a day at the Museum of London exploring London in Mozart’s time. Between then and 13 February they will take part in a series of workshops with Classical Opera musicians in order to create their own operas. The Museum of London’s digital team will also lead workshops to help the young people turn their research into a short film, which will act as a backdrop or ‘set’ to their operas. A free performance of these operas will take place in the Museum’s theatre on Friday 13 February, during which the wider school community, as well as parents, will be invited to visit the Museum to watch the performances. That day, the Museum of London will offer members of the public free ‘Expanding City’ tours at 11am and 12pm focusing on Georgian London, which will culminate in live musical performances of works by Mozart by Guildhall School and Classical Opera musicians.

Adriano in Siria

MOZART 250 continues with three performances of J.C. Bach’s Adriano in Siria at the Royal College of Music’s Britten Theatre on 14, 16 & 18 April. Directed by Thomas Guthrie and designed by Rhys Jarman, Classical Opera’s new production will be the first staging of the opera in modern times, and the cast includes Rowan Hellier as Adriano, Stuart Jackson as Osroa, Ellie Laugharne as Emirena and Erica Eloff as Farnaspe. The première of Adriano in Siria took place at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket on 26 January 1765, the eve of Mozart’s ninth birthday, and attracted such a large audience that scarcely a third of those assembled were able to get seats. The young Mozart would have heard at least one performance of the work during his childhood stay in London, and subsequently wrote of Bach: “I love him with all my heart, and have the highest regard for him.”

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rom 20-22 February at Milton Court, Classical Opera and conductor Ian Page will present the first ever major retrospective of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s childhood visit to London (April 1764 – July 1765), featuring a weekend of concerts, talks and events. The weekend is a feature of MOZART 250, Classical Opera’s ambitious long-term plan to follow the chronological trajectory of Mozart’s life and works 250 years later.