180 Days With Mozart And Me

A Survey Of The Philips Complete Mozart Edition…From Symphonies Through Theatre And Ballet Music

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Of Unusual Occupations and Unfinished Operas (German Operas, Box 16)

May 28th, 2010 · No Comments · Allazim, Armin Ude, Bernhard Klee, Box 16: German Operas, Drei Sklaven, Edith Mathis, Gomatz, Gunther Koch, Ingvar Wixell, Joachime Vogt, K344, K344 (Part I), Mozart at 23, Mozart at 24, Osmin, Peter Schreier, Reiner Suss, Salzburg (1779-80), Staatskapelle Berlin, Sultan Soliman, Vorsanger, Walter Weih, Werner Hollweg, Wolfgang Wagner, Zaide

German OperasI like watching old movies, the really old black and whites, and seeing the occupations people had back then. Jobs like elevator operator, soda jerk, gas-station attendant, and switchboard operator. Today, those jobs seem archaic. And unnecessary.

But I’m sure many jobs today will seem that way in 20 years.

If there are any jobs left.

By the way, I was a petroleum transfer engineer once.

I pumped gas at a local station.

Unusual occupations. They may look silly now. But I miss those jobs. They recall simpler times.

I liked today’s opera, which is called Zaide, K344. Today’s installment is Part I.

I like Symphony in G, K318 (Overture). I like the spoken parts (and there are a lot of them), probably because they’re not always sung. They’re actually spoken, like a conversation. (Example: Track 4: “Noch nie war mir vergönnt” .)

And I like the voices. Especially the voices. Even the cadence of the music is intriguing. Take Track 19 (“Wer hungrig bei der Tafel sitzt”), for example. It bounces along, almost in a sing-song way, some of the time with the vocalist laughing. It’s an unusual song.

This is a pleasant, albeit strange little opera. It doesn’t sound or feel like Mozart’s other operas.

And there’s a good reason why: It was never finished. At least, not by Mozart.

Here’s the scoop on Zaide, K344, according to its entry on Wikipedia:

Zaide (originally, Das Serail) is an unfinished opera, K. 344, written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1780. Emperor Joseph II, in 1778, was in the process of setting up an opera company for the purpose of performing German opera. One condition required of the composer to join this company was that he should write a comic opera. At Salzburg in 1779 he began work on a new “rescue” opera, Zaide. It contains spoken dialogue, which also classifies it as a Singspiel (literally, “singing play”). Only the arias and ensembles from the first two acts were composed. Missing are an overture and third act.

Mozart was composing for a German libretto by Johann Andreas Schachtner, set in Turkey, which was the scene of his next, completed rescue Singspiel (Die Entführung aus dem Serail). Sadly, he would soon abandon Zaide, to work on Idomeneo, and never returned to the project. The work was lost until after his death, when Constanze Mozart, his wife, found it in his scattered manuscripts in 1799. The fragments wouldn’t be published until 1838, and its first performance was held in Frankfurt on January 27, 1866. Zaide has since been said to be the foundations of a masterpiece, and received critical acclaim. The tender soprano air, “Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben” is the only number that might be called moderately familiar.

In modern performances, Mozart’s Symphony No. 32, K. 318, which was composed around the same time as Zaide and later used as an overture to Francesco Bianchi’s La villanella rapita (1784), is often given as an overture to Zaide. Completions of the opera may use a pastiche of Mozart’s concert arias or, more popularly, music from Thamos, King of Egypt, also from the same period of Mozart’s career.

The Original Cast:

German Operas, Zaide

The Cast Today:

Zaide……………………………….Edith Mathis
Gomatz…………………………….Peter Schreier
Allazim……………………………..Ingvar Wixell
Sultan Soliman…………………..Werner Hollweg
Osmin………………………………Reiner Suss
Vorsanger (Erster Sklave)……..Armin Ude
Principle singer (first slave)
Drei Sklaven………………………Joachim Vogt, Wolfgang Wagner, Gunther Koch
Three slaves

Walter Weih, oboe
Staatskapelle Berlin
Bernhard Klee

Here is what I listened to today, complete with the best guesses of scholars regarding where and when each composition was penned. This information was pieced together from The Compactothèque book + CD, which is an essential purchase if you want the fullest enjoyment from the Philips Complete Mozart Edition. It’s only about $8 and the sampler CD, alone, is remarkably enjoyable. But the booklet is gold, Jerry! Gold! Keep in mind, some of these places and dates are merely guesses. But I find it fascinating to see even guesses for some of these compositions. They help me put Mozart’s life and creative output in perspective.

For example, Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart was born on 27 January 1756. With that in mind, take a look at where and when these pieces were composed. I’ll add Mozart’s approximate age in the parenthetical data below each composition:

1. Symphony No.32 in G, K.318 (Overture in G) – Allegro – Andante – Tempo I (Berliner Staatskapelle)
2. Zaide, K.344 / Act 1 – “Brüder, laßt uns lustig sein” (Gunther Koch)
3. Zaide, K.344 / Act 1 – “Unerforschliche Fügung” (Peter Schreier)
4. Zaide, K.344 / Act 1 – “Noch nie war mir vergönnt” (Friedericke Aust)
5. Zaide, K.344 / Act 1 – “Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben” (Edith Mathis)
6. Zaide, K.344 / Act 1 – “Ah! So gut habe ich noch nie geschlafen” (Gerd Grasse)
7. Zaide, K.344 / Act 1 – “Rase, Schicksal, wüte immer” (Peter Schreier)
8. Zaide, K.344 / Act 1 – “Nichtswürdiger Sklave” (Friedericke Aust)
9. Zaide, K.344 / Act 1 – “Meine Seele hüpft vor Freuden” (Edith Mathis)
10. Zaide, K.344 / Act 1 – “Unglückseliger!” (Gerd Grasse)
11. Zaide, K.344 / Act 1 – “Herr und Freund!” (Peter Schreier)
12. Zaide, K.344 / Act 1 – “Weit weiche ich von meiner Pflicht” (Wolfgang Dehler)
13. Zaide, K.344 / Act 1 – “Nur mutig, mein Herze” (Ingvar Wixell)
14. Zaide, K.344 / Act 1 – “Eilt, Gomatz, ihr wißt den Weg!” (Friedericke Aust)
15. Zaide, K.344 / Act 1 – “O selige Wonne!” (Edith Mathis)
16. Zaide, K.344 / Act 2 – “Zaide entflohen!” (Reiner Süss)
17. Zaide, K.344 / Act 2 – “Der stolze Löw'” (Werner Hollweg)
18. Zaide, K.344 / Act 2 – “Nun, so wären wir den Allazim los!” (Reiner Süss)
19. Zaide, K.344 / Act 2 – “Wer hungrig bei der Tafel sitzt”
– Salzburg, 1779-80 (Mozart was 23 or 24)

I don’t really know why I liked Zaide. It just didn’t sound like a typical Mozart opera. It felt more somehow. More heartfelt. Like real people (not actors) talking and singing. I know that may sound odd. But that’s how it felt to me.


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