Mozart was only 16 when he wrote Lucio Silla, but in his exceptional case ‘only’ is hardly the right word. It appears that he also conducted the first performances and this would not have been anything of a surprise to anyone involved or the audiences. Mozart’s early mastery simply dazzles and bemuses us these days, and seems precocious. But his completely magisterial command of all aspects of technique allied with an uncanny perceptive understanding of human psychology and music’s power to suggest frames of mind beyond simple fury, despair or love, defies everyday assumptions of the callowness of any kind of youth. Lucio Silla is a thrillingly virtuosic work, full of brilliance and affecting beauty, rarely performed and even more rarely staged. Glimpses of his later works are here, the flashes of inspiration that place him as primus inter pares in the pantheon of composers who made opera not only into paeans of humanism but also the ultimate theatrical experience. Directing Lucio Silla will be the widely experienced American director Harry Silverstein, and Laurence Cummings will return to conduct following his beautifully realised Tamerlano for us this last summer.