Operatic highlights in the Barbican's 2008 Mostly Mozart Festival

Classical and opera news

21 March 2008

Alice Coote - credit: Anne-Marie Le BléThe Barbican Hall has announced details of this summer's annual Mostly Mozart Festival, which is this year rich with operatic treasures.

Rebecca Evans, Danielle de Niese, Alice Coote and Toby Spence are just some of the big names which the major venue has attracted for the brief but important summer concert season.

The Festival opens on 10 July with a concert consisting of Haydn's Cello Concerto in D major, Mozart's final piano concerto played by Steven Osborne and Beethoven's First Symphony. Andreas Delfs conducts the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

The ASMIF is the resident orchestra for most of the festival, joining forces with soprano Danielle de Niese on 17 July for Handel and Mozart arias, with Joseph Swenson and Leila Josefowicz for the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto on 24 July, with Barry Douglas (as pianist and director) for Shostakovich's First Piano Concerto and Beethoven's 'Emperor' on 25 July, and with Carlo Rizzi for the traditional closing-night performance of Mozart's Requiem on 2 August (in which Cyndia Sieden – Ariel in Ades' The Tempest – will be the soprano soloist).

A wide range of other events completes the festival. Garsington Opera brings its production of Così fan tutte with a cast including Anna Stephany on 11 July. In an intriguing move, Sir Colin Davis will conduct the Barbican Youth Orchestra, described as 'a specially assembled orchestra of players aged 8+ from across London', in Mozart's Divertimento and Dvorak's Eighth Symphony. Sir Colin's tireless efforts to encourage the development of young musicians deserve much applause.

The two highlights of the Mostly Mozart Festival 2008 come in the final week of the season. On 26 July, Edward Gardner will conduct the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in La clemenza di Tito, Mozart's late opera seria. The cast is star-laden: Alice Coote will be Sesto, Toby Spence plays the title role, Matthew Rose (formerly of Covent Garden's Young Artists Programme) is Publio, Hillevi Martinpelto is Vitellia and Sarah Tynan is Annio – an evening not to be missed.

Then on 31 July, the Classical Opera Company presents an evening entitled 'The Truth about Love: a romantic journey through Mozart's operas'. Ian Page will conduct singers including Rebecca Evans and Andrew Kennedy in extracts from operas both familiar (Figaro) and little-known (La finta giardiniera).

Although not the most comprehensive, the Barbican's Mostly Mozart Festival is full of nuggets and well worth exploration.

By Dominic McHugh

Also see details of The Royal Opera, Covent Garden's 2008-09 season here.

See also our preview of the Barbican's Great Performers 2008-09 season here.

And read our preview of the London Philharmonic's 2008-09 season here.

Also see details of Welsh National Opera's 2008-09 season here.