Mitridate, re di Ponto (‘Mithridates, King of Pontus’)
- Julian Rushton
Dramma per musica in three acts, K87/74 a, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a libretto by Vittorio Amedeo Cigna-Santi after Giuseppe Parini’s translation of Jean Racine’s Mithridate (see Mithridates); Milan, Regio Ducal Teatro, 26 December 1770.
Mitridate was commissioned for Carnival 1771; Mozart wrote the recitatives and overture while touring Italy in 1770. Reaching Milan on 18 October, he was forced to write and rewrite the arias quickly; the castrato Pietro Benedetti caused anxiety by his late arrival (1 December) and someone tried to persuade the prima donna to introduce arias from Gasparini’s Mitridate (1767, Turin: with the same libretto). As in Vienna in 1768 there were those who condemned the work in advance because of Mozart’s extreme youth. They were silenced by the first performance. Despite its length – six hours, with the ballet – Mitridate was repeated 21 times. Some music not by Mozart may have been included in the performances, and some lines of recitative are missing in every source. No further performances are known until the present century....