Apollo et Hyacinthus


Wolfgang-Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Rufinus Widl

Latin comedy

Stage Director - Dmitry Bertman
Music Director - Viktoria Unguryanu
Set and Costume Designers - Igor Nezhny and Tatiana Tulubieva
Premiere: 12.01.2001
Directed by Alexander Borodovsky
Playing time: 1 hour 10 minutes (no intermission)
Language of performance: Latin, Russian

Opera “Apollo et Hyacinthus” was written by 11-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in spring 1767 for a play of the Saltsburg University, having a large theatre auditorium with more than a century-old history. The university plays were staged with the purpose of improving the student’s knowledge of the Latin language. There is little information about the Mozart’s education, but in his childhood he learnt Latin to some extent. On 13 May 1767 the students acted out a Latin tragedy “Clementia Croesi”. According to the baroque tradition of those days there were three musical interludes between the acts, representing the three parts of the Mozart’s opera “Apollo et Hyacinthus seu Hyacinthi Metamorphosis”. 

The both plays (tragedy and “the Latin comedy”, i. e. the opera libretto) were written by Benedictine Pater Rufinus Widl, a Professor of the Saltsburg University Gymnasium. As the theme for his plays Widl chose the antique myth about a beautiful youth, turning into the flower after his death. He drawn this plot from the “Metamorphoses” by Ovidius and tried to interpret it with the maximum ethical benefit for the youth. The libretto edited to the play contained the following information about the young composer: “The author of the music for the opera is a known gentleman Wolfgang Mozart, the eleven year old son of a well-known and also talented gentleman Leopold Mozart, a chapelmaster”. The gymnasium students, future church musicians, priests and lawyers took part in the performance. The youngest was 12-year-old, the eldest was 23. Some of them also sang in the chapel. The opera was very successful, everybody got congratulations: the poet-professor, the young actors and the little composer. There was a small improvised concert after the play: Wolfgang was playing the clavier for a long while to everyone’s amusement.

Hyacinthus, a son of king Oebalus of Sparta, is a lover of a powerful god Apollo. But as the king and his children Hyacinthus and Melia are bringing gifts to the Apollo’s altar, the god of the West Wind, Zephyr also makes a declaration of love to the beautiful youth. Apollo is furious to hear of it and doesn’t want to accept the king’s gifts. Only the Hyacinthus’s prayers have mollified the god’s anger. The vauntful Oebalus wants to marry Melia to Apollo. During the sports tournament the insidious Zephyr guided by his revenge to Apollo, directs the Apollo’s discus to Hyacinthus. The youth has been gravely wounded. Zephyr blames Apollo in the Hyacinthus’s death and asks Oebalus for the unalloyed Melia’s hand in marriage. But in his agony Hyacinthus names his real killer. Apollo has come back and turns the drops of the Hyacinthus’s blood into a marvelous flower in memory of his beloved…

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