MOZART: Demofoonte (Ein Opernfragment – Fragments of an Opera) – Eleonore Marguerre (sop.)/Sunhae Im (sop.)/Netta Or (sop.)/Matthias Habich (actor)/Cappella Coloniensis/Bruno Weil – Arts Multichannel SACD (2), 47746-8 SACD, 94:06 total; Performance *** Sound *** [Distr. by Albany]:
The Baroque court poet Metastasio (Pietro Antonio Trapassi, 1698-1782) wrote 27 major opera dramas, that is, stories/librettos for operas. Demofoonte (pronounced Demofont) was his thirteenth and is widely considered to be his best. It should be noted that the libretto was set to formally completed operas by more than 70 different composers over a short period of time including this possible attempt by Mozart (1756-1791). Possible or just potential in the sense that Mozart never completed even remotely an opera under that name or with that libretto, he just composed four independent arias based on Metastasio’s long libretto and that’s all.
Individually each track in this double SACD amongst a grand total of 29 is interesting in itself and no more – this is not an opera but a demonstration of sorts of Mozart’s incipient composing skills. Aside from the four arias mentioned above we find plenty of early Mozart here but that includes music that has nothing to do with Demofoonte. The producers’ message that Mozart might have completed it as an opera with music that stylistically “fits” with those four arias I am afraid does not stick at all. The whole thing is interesting but is just a vehicle to present more than twenty Mozart musical lollipops, thus my low grading for these two discs. However, the orchestral playing and the singing are adequate while the sound has an obvious quality.
Final words: as a historical document this double disc may have some value but that’s all.
— John Nemaric