Berkshire Choral International

Mozart in the Mountains

Mozart Great Mass in C minor
Mozart Opera Choruses

June 4-11, 2017
Concert: June 10, First Baptist Church of Asheville
Conductor: Erin Freeman

The present church building is the fifth of First Baptist's worship facilities. Designed by architect Douglas D. Ellington, it was completed in 1927 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At the time of its design, architecture was leaning toward Modernism, yet Ellington used a combination of styles based on Beaux Arts. He based the sanctuary design on the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy.

It is a fitting venue for a performance of Mozart's Great Mass in C minor. Written in 1783, the uncompleted mass might have been inspired by Mozart's meeting the year before with Baron Gottfried van Swieten, who was an aficionado of Baroque music. Mozart became interested and decided to incorporate fugues in the style of Bach and Handel into the mass. He apparently lost his zeal, though, and along with many other works of the time, he left it unfinished.

The opera choruses are from Idomeneo, which was commissioned and premiered in Munich in 1781. Based on Greek tragedy, and reminiscent of Handel's oratorio Jephtha, it tells the tale of King Idomeneo of Crete, his son Idamante, and the two women in love with Idamante. Struggling back to Crete after the Trojan War, King Idomeneo vows to Neptune to sacrifice the first person he sees if he is delivered from a shipwreck. The first person he sees is Idamante. The choruses from Act II that will be sung, Godiam La Pace, Placido e il mar, and Corriamo fuggiamo fuel mostro spietato, celebrate Idamante's release of the Trojan prisoners and the quiet sea before turning to terror at Neptune's fury that Idomeneo has not yet fulfilled his vow.