Mitridate, re di Ponto
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Die Schuldigkeit des
Mitridate, re di Ponto (Mithridates, King of Pontus), K. 87 (74a), is an early opera seria in three acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The libretto is by Vittorio Amadeo Cigna-Santi after Giuseppe Parini's Italian translation of Jean Racine.
Mozart wrote Mitridate while touring Italy in 1770. It was first performed at the Regio Ducal Teatro, Milan, on the 26th of December 1770 (at the Milan Carnival). The opera was a success, having been performed twenty-one times despite doubts because of Mozart’s extreme youth — he was 14 at the time. No revival took place until the 20th century. This opera features splendid virtuoso arias for the principal roles, but only 2 ensemble numbers: the Act II ending duet between Aspasia and Sifare (Se viver non degg’io), and the brief quintet that ends the opera.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, December 26, 1770
(Conductor: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
|Arbate, Governor of Nymphæa||soprano castrato||Pietro Muschietti|
|Sifare or Xiphares,
|soprano castrato||Pietro Benedetti (Sartorino)|
|Aspasia, pledged in marriage
to Mitridate, the Queen
|Farnace or Pharnaces,
Mitridate's eldest son
|alto castrato||Giuseppe Cicognani|
|Marzio or Marcius, Roman
|Mitridate, King of Pontus||tenor||Guglielmo d'Ettore|
|Ismene, Parthian Princess||soprano||Anna Francesca Varese|
- Place: around the Crimean port of Nymphæum
- Time: 63BC during the conflict between Rome and Pontus
Mitridate, having suffered a heavy defeat at a battle, is presumed dead. This false news is passed by Arbate, the Governor, to his fiancee Aspasia and his sons, Farnace and Sifare.
Arbate, the governor of Nymphæum, welcomes Sifare. We learn that Sifare resents his brother, Farnace, because of his brother’s strong ties with their enemies, the Romans. Arbate pledges his loyalty to Sifare. Aspasia pleas for Sifare to help her against advances by Farnace. He accepts her plea and reveals his love for her.
Farnace makes his advances on Aspasia. Aspasia refuses with support from Sifare who protects her from his forceful brother. News arrives that Mitridate is alive and is approaching the city. Arbate urges brothers to conceal their differences and greet their father. Brothers agree to hide their feelings for Aspasia. Farnace conspires with Marzio, Roman legionary officer, against Mitridate.
Mitridate arrives on the shores of Nymphæaum with princess Ismene, daughter of his ally the King of Parthia. Mitridate wants Farnace to marry Ismene, his promised bride. Ismene is in love with Farnace but senses problems and is worried about her future. Arbate tells Mitridate that Farnace is pursuing Aspasia not mentioning Sifare. Jealous Mitridate swears revenge on Farnace.
Farnace scorns and threatens Ismene. She tells Mitridate who suggests that she should marry Sifare. Mitridate asks Aspasia for immediate marriage but she hesitates proving to him she is unfaithful. Aspasia confesses love to Sifare but they both agree to part to save their honour. Sifare plans to leave and Aspasia is troubled with the conflict between love and duty.
Mitridate is aware of Farnaces plot against him with the Romans and plans his revenge despite Marzio’s offer of peace. He arrests Farnace to execute him. Ismene rescues the prince who admits treachery but implicates Sifare. Mitridate tricks Aspasia into admitting her love for Sifare and swears revenge. Aspasia and Sifare wish to die together in fear of Mitridate’s threats.
Ismene, still in love with Farnace, tries to convince Mitridate to forgive Aspasia. Romans attack and Mitridate leaves for battle. Aspasia contemplates suicide by poison. Sifare also wants to die and joins his father in the battle.
Marzio liberates Farnace and promises the rule of Nymphæum to him. Farnace changes his mind deciding to side with Mitridate.
Mitridate commits suicide avoiding defeat. Before he dies he gives his blessing to Sifare and Aspasia and forgives Farnace who now agrees to marry Ismene. All four pledge to free the world from Rome.
- "Nel sen mi palpita" - Aspasia in Act I
- "Parto : nel gran cimento" - Sifare in Act I
- "Quel ribelle" - Mitridate in Act I
- "Se di lauri" - Mitridate in Act I
- "In faccia all'oggetto" - Ismene in Act I
- "L'odio nel cor" - Arbate in Act I
- "Al destin che la minaccia" - Aspasia in Act I
- "Soffre il mio cor" - Sifare in Act I
- "Venga pur, minacci" - Farnace in Act I
- "Già di pietà mi spoglio" - Mitridate in Act II
- "Lungi da te" - Sifare in Act II
- "Nel grave tormento" - Aspasia in Act II
- "So quanto a te" - Ismene in Act II
- "Son reo; l'error confesso" - Farnace in Act II
- "Tu che fedel" - Mitridate in Act II
- "Va, l'error mio palesa" - Farnace in Act II
- "Ah ben ne fui presaga…Pallid' ombre" - Aspasia in Act III
- "Già dagli occhi" - Farnace in Act III
- "Se di regnar" - Marzio in Act III
- "Se il rigor d'ingrata sorte" - Sifare in Act III
- "Tu sai per che m'accese" - Ismene in Act III
- "Vado incontro" - Mitridate in Act III
- M22: Mitridate, re di Ponto (DVD), Salzburg Festival 2006 (Minkowski/R Croft,B Mehta, Persson)
- Mitridate, re di Ponto (DVD) JP Ponnelle film (Harnoncourt/Winbergh, Kenny, Murray)
- Mitridate, re di Ponto (DVD) ROH 1993 (P Daniel/Ford, Kowalski, Murray, Orgonasova)
- Mitridate, re di Ponto (CD), Salzburg Mozart Week 1997 (Norrington/Ford, Kasarova, Sieden, Oelze)
- Mitridate, re di Ponto (CD), 1999 (Rousset/Sabbatini, Asawa, Bartoli, Dessay)
List of Mozart's operas
- Alison Latham, ed (2002). "Mitridate, re di Ponto". The Oxford Companion to Music. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198662122. OCLC 59376677.
- "Mitridate, re di Ponto" The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera. John Warrack and Ewan West. Oxford University Press, 1996.
- "Mitridate, re di Ponto" Who's Who in Opera. Joyce Bourne. Oxford University Press, 1998.
- "Mitridate, King" Who's Who in Opera. Joyce Bourne. Oxford University Press, 1998.
- Mitridate, re di Ponto: Score and critical report (German) in the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe
- Opera on DVD: Mitridate Rè di Ponto by Charles T. Downey (Ionarts, 22 August 2006]
- Mozart-Tower mp3 clips from this opera