This was the inaugural production of the Gotham Chamber Opera, which they have revived in celebration of their 10th season. A creation of the 16-year-old Mozart and the librettist Pietro Metastasio, IL SOGNO DI SCIPIONE is an allegorical dream play in which the Roman general of the title must choose between the affections of Fortune and Constancy while haunted by the knowledge that his choice will determine the outcome of the African conquest that is his ancestral duty. The ghostly appearance of two of his forbears – in a manner that pre-figures the visitation of the Stone Guest in Don Giovanni – weighs further on his deliberations. All of which unfolds in a neo-Platonic universe of musical spheres and celestial emanations, enabling us even in sleep to perceive no more than the shadows of ultimate truth and absolute virtue. The Gotham production brings such obscurities down to earth by setting the action in a shag-carpeted bachelor’s pad, with mod globe lighting fixtures doubling as heavenly spheres and the two goddesses as gamine bedmates who are both girlfriends of the general and jealous rivals of each other. The whole thing is quite wonderful, wise, witty, and ingenious, just the right length, and aesthetically cleansing, the charm of the music being well-served by the voices (especially those of the women) and the perfectly scaled orchestra.
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