Culture Magazine

The Superconductor Audio Guide: The Major Mozart Operas

By Superconductor @ppelkonen
Seven great works from the genius who changed the world. by Paul J. Pelkonen
The Superconductor Audio Guide: The Major Mozart Operas
Somewhere around three-quarters of the way through the ten articles lay month chronicling the life and major stage works of Richard Wagner I started thinking about who I was going to write about next, I thought for maybe ten seconds and decided that the next composer in our spotlight will be Mozart.
Although he only loved for thirty-five years, the career and vast output of Mozart is a big subject. For now, Superconductor will focus to the seven major operas that he produced in the last fifteen years of his short life. These are also works that I own multiple recordings of, have seen any number of times onstage and am comfortable speaking on each of them in some depth.
Mozart’s opera career actually goes all the way back to the tender age of eleven, when he composed one act of an opera-oratorio titled Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots ("The Obligations of the First Commandment.") Serious Mozarteans and opera lovers should also explore the stage works from his teenage years, a formidable catalog that includes Mitridate (written for an Italian theater when Mozart was 14) Il sogno di Scipione (written at 15)  and Il Re Pastore (composed at 19).
These early operas have wonderful music, even if the librettos can be a little stodgy. All are available on record, in both the Philips Complete Mozart Edition and the Mozart boxed set from Brilliant Classics. And that's all we're going to say about them for the moment.
The series, which will run on the blog this month, will be confined to the  operas that remain in the standard repertory, from Idomeneo to Die Zauberflöte. Five of these operas are in Italian and two are singspiels in German with spoken dialog instead of recitative. Also, five are comedies and two belong to the 18th century genre of opera seria. 
Here's the list:, in chronological order, with information on dates and where each opera premiered.
  • Idomeneo, Re di Creta (Cuvilles Theater, Munich, Germany, 1781) 
  • Die Entführung aus dem Serail  (Burgtheater, Vienna, Austria 1782)
  • Le Nozze di Figaro (Burgtheater, Vienna 1785)
  • Don Giovanni (Teatro da Praga, Prague, 1787)
  • Cosí fan tutte (Burgtheater, Vienna, 1790)
  • La clemenza di Tito (Estates Theater, Prague 1791)
  • Die Zauberflöte (Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden, Vienna, 1791)
Finally, here's a hint of what we'll be talking about:  the "Sull'aria" canzonetta from Le Nozze di Figaro,  as spun by DJ Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption.

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