Mozart started work on his incomplete opera Zaide in 1779 at the age of 23, finishing just 15 numbers before setting it aside to write Idomeneo. Its two acts – there would have been three – are however filled with some wonderful music including two melodramas and the most famous number, Zaïde’s Ruhe sanft.
Act One finds Gomatz (Allan Clayton) among the slaves of Sultan Soliman (Stuart Jackson). He sleeps to forget his plight and, as he does, Soliman’s favourite odalisque Zaide (Sophie Bevan), sings Rest gently by his side. Soon enough, Gomatz, Zaide and sympathetic guard Allazim (Jacques Imbrailo) plan their escape. Act Two sees the hapless lovers recaptured and condemned to die.
This is yet another superlative addition to Ian Page’s period ensemble Classical Opera’s critically acclaimed complete cycle of Mozart operas. The brilliance of the orchestral playing is established from the beginning with a highly dramatic reading of an overture lifted from Mozart’s incidental music to Thamos, König in Ägypten.
Those following British soprano Sophie Bevan’s stellar career will find nothing to disappoint, while arias such as Gomatz’s Rase, Schicksal, wüte immer (Fury, destiny, keep on raging) allow Clayton to demonstrate his own mastery of early Classical style. Jackson is impressive too in numbers such as Der stolze Löw’ läßt sich zwar zähmen (The proud lion indeed lets himself be tamed), while Imbrailo shines in ensemble numbers.