Special Sub-Topic: With Mozart At The Opera
|In 1780 Mozart worked on an opera in which the Greek heroine Elettra fails to win the love of the King of Crete's son (Idamante) who prefers the Trojan prisoner princess Ilia. What's the name of the opera?|
'Idomeneo'. 'Mitridate' ( written in the 1770s) was based on a play by Racine and as the subtitle (Re di Ponto) shows is NOT situated on Crete but in Pontus. 'La finta giardinera' (1775) is about somebody disguising herself as a gardener. 'La Clemenza di Tito' is situated in Antique Rome and deals with Titus Vespasianus.
|In 1782 Mozart married Konstanze, the sister of Aloysia Weber, the woman he he had been courting first. In the same year he gave the name of Konstanze to the heroine of one of his most popular operas. In it a Christian woman gets locked up as a slave in the household of a Muslim prince. Name of the opera?|
'Die Entfuehrung aus dem Serail'. With this 'German Singspiel' Mozart must have pleased his boss the Austrian Emperor Jozef II, who was carrying out an active policy of Germanisation of his multi-ethnic Empire. He expected German to earn extra prestige from becoming a language for musicical performances. 'Le Nozze di Figaro', 'Don Giovanni' and 'Cosi Fan Tutte' were written at the time the German Singspiele had lost a lot of their popularity already, and Italian was again THE language for opera. But in 1791 Mozart returns to German when he writes his 'Zauberfloete'. ('Magic Flute').
|Which of these characters from 'Die Entfuehrung aus dem Serail' can be seen as a mirror image of the enlightened and religiously tolerant Emperor of Austria, Jozef II, because in the play he, as a Ruler, demonstrates he can forgive his rival in love, even when that rival turns out to be the son on an old enemy?|
Bassa Selim. Bassa Selim is a Spaniard who has turned Muslim, but as a Muslim he is as tolerant as the freemasons whom Mozart admired. Osmin is his less generous servant and 'master of the seraglio'. He clearly does not know how to be a gentleman towards the women in his charge. Not even when Bassa Selim gives him Blonde as his 'playgirl'. Blonde is Konstanze's maidservant, Pedrillo is her man-servant. Belmonte is her fiance who she tries to be faithful too, even though her admiration and friendship for Bassa Selim are great as well.
|In 1786 Mozart writes the first of three comic operas for which he had the same librettist: 'Le Nozze di Figaro'. Later followed by 'Don Giovanni'(1787) and 'Cosi Fan Tutte'(1790). Who was that librettist - who also worked for Salieri?|
Lorenzo da Ponte. Beaumarchais wrote 'Le Mariage de Figaro' and Lorenzo del Ponte adapted the play for an opera-version. The libretto being the 'opera-text'..it's of course del Ponte who is meant. Emanuel Schikaneder was an excellent librettist as well. He wrote the libretto for 'Die Entfuehrung' and for 'Der Schauspieldirektor'. Mozart had met Schikaneder already in Salzburg where he had shown his talents as a man of the theatre.
|When the French play 'Le Mariage de Figaro' was adapted for opera it was re-written in Italian rather than in German. Which of these reasons played a major role in that decision?|
the lower classes did not understand Italian, which was very suitable as they were not meant to understand the play either. Mozart had already written more than enough German songs to not say anything stupid about his own mothertongue. Beaumarchais' play had shocked the European nobility, but the Austrian Emperor felt that its contents was very useful as a warning to the decadent top-layers of society: immoral behaviour such as demonstrated by Count Almaviva was bad for the preservation of the social prestige of the Viennese Court. Even in Italian, the Viennese aristocracy would understand what the lecture was about.
|What was so shocking about the subject of Beaumarchais' play?|
a count was defeated in love and ridiculed by a mere servant. Napoleon said of Beaumarchais' play that it was 'the revolution on the march'. Though Figaro nowhere preaches violence against the aristocrats, he clearly does not feel they're inferior. He shows little respect for the count. Most of the characters are a kind of 'libertines' (especially Cherubino has strong erotic urges), but that was not uncommon in the 18th century. Figaro has NO love-affair with the Countess though he is often in league with her as keeping the Count under control is their common aim.
|Which of these 'male' roles in 'Le Nozze' is normally meant for a woman's voice?|
Cherubino. Cherubino is not a full-grown man yet. Nonetheless he steals kisses everywhere. In his own age-category Barbarina is his sweetheart. The countess is more than just his godmother. And even Susanna, Figaro's beloved, is not indifferent to his charms. So none of the men complain very much when the Count finally sends him off to the army. In Beaumarchais' version of the story he also gets killed there. With 'Le Nozze', Mozart proved that he could write a better 'opera buffa' in Italian than the Italians themselves.
|True or False: Though Pierre Auguste de Beaumarchais attacked the aristocracy, he was himself a nobleman as is proved by the title he used, Baron de Beaumarchais?|
False & f. Beaumarchais used that fake title by way of mockery.
|What in 'Le Nozze' is the source of the conflict between Figaro and Count Almaviva?|
the Count wants to reintroduce the ius primae noctis so that he can sleep with Susanna before she becomes Figaro's wife. The Count offers 'accomodation' to the future married couple close to his own apartments to facilitate the plans he has. In spite of the earlier 'abolition' of the jus primae noctis, he is in the habit of getting what he wants with all of the maidservants, but in the case of Figaro and Susanna, he meets with stubborn resistance.
|At a given moment the Count thinks he has found a means to separate Susanna and Figaro. He discovers that Figaro once borrowed a sum of money from Dr. Bartolo's maidservant, Marcellina, in exchange for a marriage promise. How does Figaro escape from this dangerous complication?|
it is discovered that Figaro is nobody else but the child Marcellina once had. As Mozart was to illustrate in his 'Cosi Fan Tutte' he seems to have strongly believed in a certain degree of sexual freedom. Anyway 'everybody is having affairs with everybody' in his operas. Yet one must take into account that this was partially a convention of the 'opera buffa' in contrast to the 'opera seria'.
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