Soprano Ana Maria Labin joins Ian Page and The Mozartists for a programme of works by Vanhal, Gluck, Mozart, Mysliveček, Benda and Kozeluch, as part of Martin Randall Travel’s ten-concert Prague Festival.
Mozart’s music had some of its most enthusiastic audiences in Prague, and the composer visited the city five times in the last five years of his life. But he didn’t have to travel to Bohemia to meet highly-talented performers and composers from the kingdom: he constantly came across them wherever he went in Europe, even when at home in Salzburg. Prague had lost its royal court to Vienna, so many local musicians were forced to seek employment elsewhere.
When as a boy Mozart was trying to make his name as an opera composer in Italy, he was befriended by one of the dominant operatic figures of the day, Josef Mysliveček. Known simply as ‘Il Boemo’, the brilliance and melodious qualities of Mysliveček’s music captivated Italian audiences. In Germany, Mozart was bowled over by the melodramas of Jiří Benda with their bold combination of spoken drama and evocative music. In Vienna, he found Czech composers had a hold over many of the musical establishments of the Empire’s capital. Christoph Willibald Gluck was one of the most venerable figures of the day, but Leopold Koželůh and Jan Křtitel Vaňhal were among the most prominent in the city’s musical life.