Next month, LA Opera presents Mozart: Truth Through Beauty, a recital tour featuring artist-in-residence Matthew Aucoin as he and the rising stars of the company’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program explore Mozart’s unique artistic trajectory.
Why Mozart? Mozart is arguably the world’s most popular composer. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the music in its entirety, you’ve likely heard some of his music on TV, in film, or even in a viral commercial. Mozart is also one of the most misunderstood composers. He is often portrayed as a faintly-annoying child prodigy to whom everything came easy (much to the chagrin of his peers as portrayed in the award-winning film Amadeus). In reality, Mozart was a serious questing artist who spent his few adult years transforming his youthful brilliance into music of sublime simplicity.
“The miracle of Mozart is not what he did as a child prodigy; the miracle is that he developed into the composer he became,” says Aucoin. “The guy was impatient with his own virtuosity, with everything that came easily to him; over time he became obsessed with simplicity, with each piece’s rightness of form. There’s a deep wisdom there. I’ve come to see Mozart’s development as a valiant, unfinished quest for simplicity.”
When tracking Mozart’s development, Aucoin turns to the composer’s operas, because “he wrote them at every stage of life, from age ten until he was on his deathbed, and he wrote them in every musical and theatrical mode available at the time.” He continues, “Second, he himself saw opera as central to his musical output. Opera’s greatest dramatic asset is the possibility of simultaneously representing multiple people’s inner worlds, and Mozart was better at this than anyone before or since. If five people talk at the same time in a play, you won’t understand a word, but somehow, through a mysterious alchemy, five people in a room singing together can communicate that room’s spiritual totality, in all its contradictions – the conflicting desires, the paradoxes, the tensions, the love. The great Mozart ensembles provide an aerial view of the human soul.”
Mozart: Truth Through Beauty is an opportunity to showcase and explore Mozart’s artistic journey; it’s also a way to share his brilliance with the Los Angeles community. The recital tour travels across the county, taking place in locations as diverse as the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles and The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens.
Of touring Los Angeles with this Mozart concert series, Aucoin is particularly excited.
“The glory of LA is its decentralization. This city I now call home is a fabulous crazy quilt of different communities, and we want the geography of our tour to reflect that diversity. People do, of course, venture outside their individual bubbles, but the landscape is so vast that it can be hard to know what’s going on elsewhere in the city. It’s very different from, say, New York, where everyone’s helplessly piled on top of each other. I take inspiration from what Peter Sellars told another LA-based artist in the 1980’s: ‘You’ve toured the world, but you haven’t toured Los Angeles!’ So, we want to tour Los Angeles. LA is a whole world, after all.”
To learn more about Mozart: Truth Through Beauty and for a list of locations, click here.LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.