The Mozartists continue their MOZART 250 project of staging operas by Mozart and his contemporaries with their recording of the UK premiére of Niccolò Jommelli’s Il Vologeso, first performed over 250 years ago on 11 February 1766 for the Stuttgart court in Ludwigsburg. For this eagerly awaited performance The Mozartists assembled a superb young cast, headed by the Irish mezzo-soprano Rachel Kelly, a graduate of the Royal Opera’s Jette Parker Young Artist Programme, tenor Stuart Jackson, a former Mozartists Associate Artist, and soprano Gemma Lois Summerfield, winner of the 2015 Kathleen Ferrier Award.
Jommelli was born just north of Naples in 1714 (the same year as Gluck) and died there in 1774. Largely forgotten now, he was one of the most celebrated composers of his day, and during a career which spanned thirty-seven years he wrote some eighty operas as well as a great number of sacred works. He was seen as an important and progressive composer in combining the vocal melodiousness and lyricism of Italian opera with more elaborate and dramatically charged elements of French opera
Set in Ephesus, on the western extremes of the Parthian Empire, in c.164 AD, Il Vologeso centres on Berenice, a woman who becomes caught between two men – the victorious Roman general Lucio Vero, and Vologeso, King of the Parthians (thought dead, but recently returned after his defeat battle).
The Mozartists, under the dynamic leadership of conductor and artistic director Ian Page, are leading exponents of the music of Mozart and his contemporaries. Originally called Classical Opera, the company was founded in 1997, and has received widespread international acclaim for its stylish and virtuosic period-instrument orchestra, its imaginative and innovative programming, and its ability to nurture and develop world-class young artists.
Under the direction of conductor Ian Page, The Mozartists (formerly Classical Opera) have established themselves among the most exciting period-instrument ensembles in Europe, attracting particular recognition for their fresh, dramatic and stylish performances, their imaginative and innovative programming, and their ability to discover and nurture outstanding young artists.
On stage and in concert, they have performed many of Mozart’s operas, and they have given the UK premières of operas by Gluck, Telemann, Jommelli and Hasse. They appear regularly in London at venues such as Wigmore Hall, Southbank Centre, Cadogan Hall and the Barbican Centre, and they presented Mozart’s La finta semplice and Il re pastore and Arne’s Artaxerxes at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. They have also performed at many of the UK’s leading festivals and in France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic.
In 2015 the company launched MOZART 250, a ground-breaking 27-year project following the chronological trajectory of Mozart’s life, works and influences. Each year MOZART 250 explores the music being composed and performed by Mozart and his contemporaries exactly 250 years previously, and this major initiative has already incorporated music by over forty composers.
The Mozartists’ extensive discography has attracted widespread acclaim. In 2012 they embarked on a major new recording cycle of the complete Mozart operas on Signum Classics, and the first seven releases in the series have all received outstanding reviews. ‘The A-Z of Mozart Opera’ (Signum Classics) and ‘Blessed Spirit – a Gluck retrospective’ (Wigmore Hall Live) were both selected for Gramophone magazine’s annual Critics’ Choice, and their solo recital discs with tenor Allan Clayton (‘Where’er You Walk’) and soprano Sophie Bevan (‘Perfido!’) were both shortlisted for the International Opera Awards. At the Greater London Enterprise Awards, The Mozartists were named ‘Most Innovative Classical Music Ensemble’ in 2021 and ‘Best Nationwide Classical Music Ensemble’ in 2022.
Ian Page (conductor) is the founder, conductor and artistic director of Classical Opera, and is emerging as one of the leading British conductors of his generation. He began his musical education as a chorister at Westminster Abbey, and studied English Literature at the University of York before completing his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. At the start of his career he worked on the music staff at Scottish Opera, Opera Factory, Glyndebourne and the Drottningholm Slottsteater in Sweden, working with such conductors as Sir Alexander Gibson, Nicholas McGegan, Mark Wigglesworth, Ivor Bolton and Sir Charles Mackerras.
With Classical Opera he has conducted most of Mozart’s early operas, including the world première of the ‘original’ version of Mitridate, re di Ponto and a new completion of Zaide, as well as Le nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte and La clemenza di Tito. He has also conducted the UK premières of Gluck’s La clemenza di Tito, Telemann’s Orpheus and Jommelli’s Il Vologeso, as well as the first new staging for 250 years of Johann Christian Bach’s Adriano in Siria. In 2009 he made his Royal Opera House début conducting Arne’s Artaxerxes at the Linbury Studio Theatre, and his studio recording of the work was released in 2011 on Linn Records.
He devised and conducted Classical Opera’s recordings of ‘The A-Z of Mozart Opera’ (Signum Classics) and ‘Blessed Spirit – a Gluck retrospective’ (Wigmore Hall Live), both of which were selected for Gramophone magazine’s annual Critic’s Choice, and he recently embarked on an acclaimed new complete cycle of Mozart opera recordings with Classical Opera. He has also created and devised MOZART 250, Classical Opera’s ambitious 27-year journey through Mozart’s music and influences, which was launched in London in 2015.