From the Salzburg Festival: the oratorio "Betulia liberata" (The Liberation of Bethulia) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, conducted by Christoph Poppen, directed by David Hermann. With Jeremy Ovenden (Ozia), Marjana Mijanovic (Giuditta), Julia Kleiter (Amital), Franz-Josef Selig (Achior), Irena Bespalovaite (Cabri), Jennifer Johnston (Carmi), the Chorus of the Vienna State Opera and the Munich Chamber Orchestra. Written in spring 1771, "Betulia liberata" takes up the well-known biblical story of Judith and Holofernes. The Assyrian general and dictator is laying siege to the Jewish town of Betulia. He has the town surrounded and its water supplies cut off. While the Prince of Betulia, Ozias, and religious leaders discuss what to do, the widow Judith decides to act: she boldly strides into the enemy camp, where she wins Holofernes' trust, arouses his senses and cuts off his head. "Betulia liberata" owes much to the composer's early experiences with opera, especially "Mitridate," and contains some strikingly prophetic features. One finds the conventional aria types of the opera seria such as the rage aria and the bravura aria; there are powerful choruses and a remarkable C minor aria with choral interjections. The work is preceded by a stormy D minor overture that foreshadows the Sturm und Drang atmosphere of the "little" G minor Symphony K. 183 of 1773. As befits an oratorio, the Salzburg production of "Betulia liberata" is semi-staged concert performance.