Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/416

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
404
MOZART.
 

to explain its origin. Schikaneder, at his little theatre in the Wieden suburb, had produced with great success a romantic comic opera after Wieland, 'Oberon, König der Elfen,' set by Paul Wranitzky. Encouraged by this success he had a second libretto constructed upon a fairytale, 'Lulu, oder die Zauberflöte,' from Wieland's 'Dschinnistan.' Just as it was ready he found that the same subject had been adapted by an actor named Perinet for the theatre in the Leopoldstadt of Vienna, under the title 'Kaspar der Fagottist, oder die Zauberzither,' with music by Wenzl Müller. He therefore remodelled his materials, introduced sympathetic allusions to the Freemasons, who were just then being hardly treated by the government, added the parts of Papageno and Papagena, and laid claim to the entire authorship. Such was the origin of this patchwork libretto, which, with all its contradictions, improbabilities, and even vulgarity, is undeniably adapted for the stage. Schikaneder knew how to gain the attention of an audience by accumulating and varying his stage effects. In proof of this we have not only the long run of the opera itself, but the testimony of [1]Goethe, who, while acknowledging that it was full of indefensible improbabilities, added, 'in spite of all, however, it must be acknowledged that the author had the most perfect knowledge of the art of contrast, and a wonderful knack of introducing stage effects.' It is well known that Goethe contemplated a continuation of the libretto, and entered into an agreement with Wranitzky on the subject in 1796.[2] Beethoven[3] declared it to be Mozart's greatest work—that in which he showed himself for the first time a truly German composer, and Schindler[4] adds that his reason for estimating it so highly was, that in it were to be found specimens of nearly every species of music from the lied to the chorale and fugue. Jahn (ii. 533) thus concludes his critique: 'The Zauberflöte has a special and most important position among Mozart's operas; the whole musical conception is pure German; and here for the first time German opera makes free and skilful use of all the elements of finished art. If in his Italian operas he assimilated the traditions of a long period of development, and in some sense put the finishing stroke to it, with the Zauberflöte Mozart treads on the threshold of the future, and unlocks for his countrymen the sacred treasure of natural art.'

We append a list of Mozart's operas, in the order in which they were first performed in London.[5]

La Clemenza di Tito,' 1808, March 27, King's Theatre; for Mrs. Billington's benefit, 'ably supported by Mr. Braham.' (1812, March 3, Catalani appeared as Vitellia, and Sig. Tramezzani as Sextus.)

'Così fan tutte,' 1811, May 9, King's Theatre; for the benefit of, Mme. Bertinotti Radicati.

'Il Flauto magico,' 1811, June 6; King's Theatre; Signor Naldi's benefit.

'Le Nozze dl Figaro,' 1812. June 18, King's Theatre; in aid of the funds of the Scottish Hospital. Among the performers were Catalani, Mrs. Dickons, Sig. Naldi, and Fischer. It was a decided success, further increased on its revival in 1817 (Feb. 1) under Ayrton. with a powerful cast.

'Don Giovanni,' 1817, April 12, King's Theatre. Extraordinary success.

'The Seraglio' (Entführung aus dem Serail'), 1827. Nov. 24, Covent Garden. Music and libretto mutilated. Performed in Italian at Her Majesty's June 30, 1866.

'Der Schauspieldirector,' 1861; music given at Crystal Palace summer concert, in Italian. Also in English (Sept 18, 1877) in the Crystal Palace Theatre as 'The Manager.'

Mozart's likeness has been preserved in every form and variety of portrait; only a few need be specified, (1) The earliest, an oil-painting to the knee, taken in Vienna in 1762, represents him in the Archduke Maximilian's gold-laced court suit, given him by the Empress. (2) In the small family picture, painted by Carmontelle in Paris in 1763, Mozart is sitting at the harpsichord, with his sister by his side, and his father standing behind him playing the violin. This drawing is now in the possession of Mrs. Baring of London. It was engraved by Delafosse, and was reproduced in coloured facsimile by Goupil's Photogravure process for Colnaghi & Co., London, in 1879. (3) In the Museum of Versailles is a small oil-painting of the same date, crowded with figures, representing Mozart sitting at the harpsichord in the Prince de Conti's saloon. As has been mentioned, his picture was taken in 1770 both in Verona and Rome. (4) In the first he is seated at the harpsichord in a crimson and gold court suit, with a diamond ring on the little finger of his right hand. Above the key-board is 'Joanni Celestini Veneti, mdlxxxiii,' and on the open music-book may be clearly deciphered what was apparently a favourite piece of the period. This picture, a half-length, is now in the possession of the heirs of Leopold von Sonnleithner, through whom it was discovered. The head is given in the frontispiece of Jahn's 1st vol. (5) In Pompeo Battoni's portrait, taken in Rome—now in the possession of John Ella, Esq., of London—the right hand holds a roll of music; the countenance is full of life, but highly idealised; an engraving by Adlard is given in the Record of the Musical Union for 1865; in Mr. Ella's 'Musical Sketches,' vol. i, and in the second edition of Nohl's 'Mozartbriefe.' (6) Della Croce painted a large picture of the family in 1780: Mozart and his sister are at the piano playing a duet; the father with his violin stands at the side, and the mother's portrait hangs on the wall. A large steel-engraving from it by Blasius Höfel is published at Salzburg. The half-lengths of Mozart and his father in Jahn's 1st vol. (p. 1 and 564) are from this picture. (7) A half-length profile carved in box-wood by Posch (1781), and now in the Mozarteum at Salzburg, was engraved by J. G. Mansfeld, and published by Artaria, with the inscription 'Dignum laude virum Musa vetat mori.' This, the universally accepted portrait, is out of print, and Kohl's engraved copy (1793) by no means comes up tothe original. (8) During his short stay at Dresden in 1789, Dora Stock, the talented sister-in-law of Korner and friend of Schiller, drew him in her own refined and spirited style. The likeness is caught with the tenderness peculiar to a woman's hand; the outlines are correct, and

  1. Eckermann's 'Gespräche mit Goethe,' iii. 17.
  2. Orpheus, Mus. Taschenbuch, 1841, p. 252.
  3. Seyfried, Beethoven's Studien, Anhang, p. 31.
  4. Biographie, ii. 164, 322.
  5. Pohl, 'Mozart in London.' pp. 145–151.