Janet Baker as Vitellia in Mozart’s opera La Clemenza di Tito, 1974

Janet Baker as Vitellia in Mozart’s opera La Clemenza di Tito, 1974

Janet Baker as Vitellia in Mozart’s opera La Clemenza di Tito
1974
Royal Opera House, London
Black and white photograph

This photograph is of Janet Baker in Mozart’s opera La Clemenza di Tito at Covent Garden in 1974. Her performance as the scheming Roman aristocrat Vitellia created a sensation. Her skills as an  actress and singer were so complete that the critic Stanley Sadie wrote ‘verbal description falters before the power of Janet Baker’s Vitellia, a performance which compels sympathy for what has been  called the nastiest villainess in all opera, so impassioned is the acting, so noble and so delicate the singing’. Although Mozart was a major force in freeing opera from the rigid conventions of opera  seria, he never abandoned the form. He used it for his penultimate opera La Clemenza di Tito, which he wrote in eighteen days, while he also working on The Magic Flute and the Requiem. Three weeks after the premiere of La Clemenza di Tito, The Magic Flute had its first performance. Nine weeeks later, Mozart was dead.