Mozart: Il sogno di Scipione, K 126

Reviewed on Mon 23 Oct, 2017

Most of the arias are florid with the singers giving virtuosic displays. The libretto is included in the booklet, where Ian Page gives a fascinating background to this work.

Mozart wrote Il sogno di Scipione, when he was about 16, as a Serenata honouring the Archbishop of Salzburg, who died before he could hear it. Mozart rewrote the dedicated licenza (tribute) naming the new Archbishop. He also took the opportunity to replace the final aria with one that is very special. In the first recitative Scipio awakes, within his dream, to find Fortuna and Constanza both demanding that he follows them, individually, for the rest of his life. Although living, he is in Elysium where he meets his late father, Emilio, and late adopted-grandfather, Publio. Neither may advise him but they do inspire his ultimate decision of Constanza. This is, strictly speaking, not an opera and it lacks the overall dramatic excitement of an opera, although there is certainly a very stirring recitative when Scipio finally rejects Fortuna. The majority of the arias are florid with the singers giving virtuosic displays. The arias of Emilio and Publio make a satisfying contrast, being simpler with fewer embellishments. The words are interesting, including the recitatives. The libretto is included in the booklet, where Ian Page gives a fascinating background to this work. The singing, indeed the general musicianship throughout, is really good. Forget high drama. Enjoy the wonderful music!
–Ruth Piatkus