Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Opera seria in three acts
Libretto by Vittorio Amedeo Cigna-Santi
after Giuseppe Parini’s Italian translation
of Jean-Baptiste Racine’s tragedy Mithridate
In 1770 Mozart revived this drama by Racine dealing with the resilience of peoples. It shows the ancient world set against the emerging force of Rome; one world confronting another, and generating the one of which we are the product and result. Life never disappears; it is reinvented, just like the operatic model was reinvented at the time of Mitridate, re di Ponto: the spectacular ancient model was giving way to a new pre-romantic energy.
Mithridates, king of Pontus in Asia Minor, has released the fake news of his death in combat to test the loyalty of his sons Sifare and Farnace, which triggers a rivalry between them for the power and for the love of Aspasia, Mithridates’s fiancée. On his return, the king discovers that Farnace is conspiring against him by an alliance with the Romans and that Aspasia and Sifare have fallen in love. In a rage, he decides on a cruel punishment for the three, but on returning defeated and seriously wounded in another battle against Rome, Mithridates pardons the repentant Farnace and praises the loyalty of Sifare, to whom he gives Aspasia for his wife.