Did you know that the Salzburg wunderkind wrote 22 operas? Gavin Dixon investigates whether we might be missing a trick or two.

Mozart’s operas, where to begin? The story usually starts with Idomeneo, Mozart’s first operatic masterpiece, completed in 1781 when he was 25. The operas that he would go on to write have dominated the repertoire ever since. But by the time of Idomeneo, Mozart already had 12 stage works to his name. So what are those early operas like? Conductor Ian Page (pictured) is on a mission to find out.

With Classical Opera, the company he founded in 1997 to explore the works of Mozart and his contemporaries, he is recording all of Mozart’s operas. “It seemed crazy to me that there were half a dozen Mozart operas played in opera houses year in year out and the rest are just never presented,” says Page. “But these early works deserve to be seen and heard. Every piece has these moments, little details, things that nobody else could do. And even from the age of 11, Mozart had this amazing ability to immediately capture an emotion or the atmosphere of a dramatic situation.”

History has been unkind to Mozart’s early...