Conductor: Imre Palló/Director: John Milson
Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Until September 24

By the age of 18 Mozart was well on his way. This early work shows his genius bursting forward, admittedly unevenly, but with all the hallmarks of his mature masterpieces. There are three or four extended ensembles in which the composer shines, lifting the work above that of his contemporaries.

The Con Opera presents an edited version of the work, excising about an hour of material. It still comes out at two-and-a-half hours, which is more than enough given the lightness of the plot. Even in this adroit production the second half begins to drag, for Mozart and his librettist were still not on top of their game. I can imagine that a production of the work in less capable hands would be a bit of a trial in the theatre, but director John Milson knows just how to deliver it effectively. He resists the temptation to trick it up, managing the difficult plot with style and wit. Conductor Imre Palló has the lovely music firmly under control. The student orchestra play very well, and the acoustics in the Conservatorium’s Music Workshop are excellent, even if the surtitles are set too high for the front half of the audience.

Being a student affair it is double cast and the talented lot I saw at the final dress rehearsal were excellent; two or three of them, much more than that. I make it a rule never to name cast members in student productions, but be assured that there are some nice surprises in store.

This is as good a production (and version) of this rarely performed opera as you are likely to get outside a major opera company. Highly recommended.

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