Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
CAST: Sophie Bevan: Zaide, Allan Clayton: Gomatz, Stuart Jackson: Soliman, Jacques Imbrailo: Allazim, Darren Jeffery: Osmin, Jonathan McGovern: Vorsinger
Orchestra and Choir of Classical Opera
Ian Page, conductor
Zaide is a charming and unfinished opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, similar to Die Entführung aus dem Serail in its Turkish subject and Singspiel form. It was discovered only after the composer’s death by its future first publisher, Johann Anton André, amid the papers sold to him by the composer’s widow. As a not famous opera, Zaide was rarely recorded and performed, but fortunately its short discography is full of beautiful interpretations, even if to the excellence of singing not always corresponds that of the stage direction. I still remember with horror the Salzburg performance of 2006, where the absurd and disgusting direction of Klaus Guth spoilt the interpretation of two fine singers as Mojca Erdmann and Topi Lehtipuu…
I am not here to discuss about this Zaide, anyway, but of a new and fine recording of the opera, released by Signum Records. First of all, conductor Ian Page realizes something beautiful and original, rich in colour and vitality, giving the listener a true, Mozartian opera from the beginning, with a powerful, intense Overture (actually the overture of Thamos, a play for which Mozart wrote incidental music), but also with a sensitive response to the delicate and melancholic melodies which constitute the larger part of this opera.
Zaide and Gomatz, the most important male character, are interpreted by Sophie Bevan and Allan Clayton. These two exquisite singers do not show a great temperament but excel in their respective roles for sweetness and grace. The lovely voice of the soprano, in particular, portrays the heroine as romantic and kind and sings her first aria as a lullaby. Jacques Imbrailo as Allazim is correct and has no other defects than his role, which does not allow him to show any remarkable feature. There is a problem instead with Stuart Jackson as Soliman, because he is not always clearly audible during his aria in the II Act, even if this may be a recording fault. In general he seems a good but not irreproachable singer, at his best in the sonorous high notes, but in general he is not impressive. Definitely better is Darren Jeffery, who portrays Osmin with great amusement in his only aria in Act II.
In conclusion, I think it is a pleasure to listen to this Zaide. The beauty of its music will be a surprise for those who never listen to it before and will make them ask why it is not performed more frequently despite its incompleteness – and will be a pleasure for those who still know it for the marvellous performance offered here.