In 1819, Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer (1758–1840) published a biography of actor, director, and playwright Friedrich Ludwig Schröder (1744–1816). Meyer had been a longtime friend, and as such had access to and was able to quote extensively from letters and other primary documents, many of which are not otherwise known to survive. One such primary document is Schröder’s travel diary from his tour of German-language theaters in April, May, and June 1791; the diary is of significance for Mozart scholarship, because it includes Schröder’s terse and unfavorable assessment of the first performance of Così fan tutte in Frankfurt on 1 May 1791—given there in a German translation under the title Liebe und Versuchung—and his strongly negative reaction to the libretto itself, which he had read three days earlier, on 28 Apr. Schröder also reports in his diary that in Mannheim on 10 May, the eminent soprano Josepha Beck privately performed three arias for him, including one from Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail.
Schröder’s reaction to the libretto of Così fan tutte is included in Dokumente (346), but without context, and only part of his assessment of the opera’s performance is given there (346, the passage in blue above), omitting the references to Schröder’s change of plan, the strong audience applause, the singer Friedrich Eunicke (who sang the role of Ferdinand [Ferrando]), and the presence at the premiere of author August von Kotzebue. Schröder’s reference to Josepha Beck and the aria from Entführung is not in Dokumente or its supplements. The present commentary discusses Schröder’s travel diary and the context of his comments on the Frankfurt premiere of Così fan tutte, and looks in some detail at the cast in that performance, which include several prominent singers, two of whom, tenor Eunike and soprano Margarethe Luise Schick, went on to considerable fame in the Nationaltheater in Berlin. For Schröder’s report on Beck, another leading soprano of her generation, see our entry for 10 May 1791. (For more on Meyer and the references to Mozart in his Schröder biography, see our entry for Prometheus Bound.)
In Apr 1791, Schröder, director of the German-language theater in Hamburg, set out on a whirlwind tour of theaters in other cities, looking for new repertoire and actors for his own company. He left Hamburg on 17 Apr, and returned on 14 Jun. During this journey of just under two months, he made stops, some lasting several days, in Weimar, Gotha, Frankfurt am Main, Mannheim, Heidelberg, Munich, Linz, Vienna, Prague, and Berlin.
Schröder’s travel diary is known from a very long quoted passage in the second volume of Meyer’s biography, beginning on page 57 and extending through page 95. Meyer places this entire passage in quotation marks, interrupted only by a small number of his own brief interjections. Meyer does not actually specify what sort of source he is quoting, apart from a vague reference on page 57 to “Blätter” (pages). However, the long quoted passage is in Schröder’s voice and consists of a sequence of dated entries from 24 Apr to 10 Jun 1791. Ordinarily, when Meyer is quoting a letter, he refers to it as “Schreiben” (see, for example, the quotation from Schröder’s letter of 10 Mar 1789), a word he does not use in reference to the extended quotation. In any case, this long passage does not read like a succession of dated letters, and certainly not like a single long letter. Thus Meyer’s source seems most likely to have been a travel diary. We have so far been unable to determine whether an original manuscript of this diary survives; in the meantime, then, Meyer’s quotation must count as the earliest surviving representation of what appears to be a lost primary source from Mozart’s lifetime—although it must be kept in mind that Meyer’s transcription may not have been entirely accurate or complete. Schröder’s travel diary would have been a personal record, intended only for himself, of what he read and saw during his tour, and his opinions are often terse and blunt: for example, his entry for 26 Apr 1791 (Meyer 1819, ii/1:60) includes the assessment: “Gelesen [...] Oberon, Musik von Wranitzky. Gut bearbeitet, schlechte Verse” (“Read [...] Oberon, music by Wranitzky. Well adapted, bad verse”). His blunt opinions of Mozart’s opera should be understood in this context, also keeping in mind that Schröder appears otherwise to have been quite favorably disposed toward Mozart’s music (for an overview of Schröder’s role in Mozart reception in Hamburg, see the entry for 19 Feb 1792).
Schröder departed Hamburg on 17 Apr 1791 (Meyer 1819, ii/1:56). On 20 Apr he arrived in Weimar (where he met Goethe, Herder, and Vulpius, among others), and while there, acquired for his Hamburg ensemble the tenor Ludwig Rau. Rau in fact gave his first performance in Hamburg less than two weeks later, on 1 May 1791, singing three arias after a performance of Paul Weidmann’s play Der Sonderling (Meyer 1819, ii/1:95), then making his formal debut on 4 May in the role of Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, a role he had sung in Weimar (see the poster for the performance there on 21 Jan 1790). Johann Friedrich Schütze, writing in 1794, but who may well have attended Rau’s first Hamburg performance in 1791, was not terribly impressed:
Am 4ten Mai debütirte
Hr. Ludwig Rau, bisheriger Sänger des Weimar=
schen Theaters, mit Belmonte in der Entführung
aus dem Serail, was dieses Tenoristen Gesang
betrifft, nicht ohne Beifall, obgleich seiner Stimme
Umfang den eines Lampe, Keilholz, Ambrosch, ehe=
maliger erster Sänger unserer Bühne, nicht erreicht.
In seinem Spiele vernachläßigte er sich zu sehr, um
als Liebhaber der Operwelt [sic] auf Verdienst irgend
ansprechen zu können. [Schütze 1794, 642]
On 4 May Herr Ludwig
Rau, previously a singer in the Weimar theater, made
his debut as Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem
Serail, not without applause, as far as this tenor’s
singing goes, although his voice does not have the
range of a Lampe, Keilholz, or Ambrosch, formerly
the leading male singer on our stage. He was far too
negligent in his acting to have any hope of being of
use as a lover in the opera world.
Schütze’s references are to three tenors who had previously sung in Hamburg: Joseph Karl Ambrosch (1759–1822) sang Belmonte in the Hamburg premiere of Die Entführung aus dem Serail on 18 Jun 1787 (see our entry for that date), and went on to become one of the leading tenors of his generation during a long career in Berlin; Joseph Friedrich Lampe had been a tenor in the Hamburg ensemble from the 1770s until 1788; and tenor Adolf Philipp Christian Keilholz had also previously been active on the Hamburg stage.
Schröder left Weimar on 22 Apr, spent that evening with Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter in Gotha, but continued his journey later that night, arriving in Frankfurt on 24 Apr, his first major stop.
Schröder’s general routine during his stay in Frankfurt was to read plays and libretti in the morning, perhaps take in a rehearsal in the afternoon, and attend performances in the evening. His schedule in Frankfurt for 26 Apr is representative of his busy reading. In the first part of the day, he read and noted down his opinions of four singspiel libretti and a three-act play with songs:
- Die Rätsel, an original libretto by Heinrich Gottlieb Schmieder (who was in Frankfurt at the time, as we learn from Schröder’s diary entry on 29 Apr);
- Wranitzky’s Oberon, which Schröder would see performed two days later;
- Die beiden kleinen Savoyarden, a translation (probably also by Schmieder) of the opéra comique Les deux petits savoyards;
- Helena und Paris, in the version set by Peter Winter; and
- Kotzebue’s “oriental comic play [Scherzspiel] with song” Sultan Wampum.
That evening, Schröder attended a performance of Salieri’s Axur, in a German translation that Schröder attributes to Schmieder (Meyer 1819, ii/1:60).
It is in this wider context that Schröder’s comment on the libretto of Così fan tutte should be understood. It was the last of three scripts Schröder read that morning: his workday on 28 Apr began at 7 o’clock, when he was visited by “Professor Fischer, vormals Astronom in Manheim [sic]”—probably Johann Nepomuck Fischer (1749–1805), at that time astronomer at the Royal Greenwich Observatory, but formerly court astronomer in Mannheim—who brought Schröder his play Erstes Wiedersehen. Schröder immediately read it, noting down that he thought it might be turned into something usable, if it were shortened to three acts. He then read a new three-act play by August von Kotzebue (1761–1819), Der Papagoy (Kotzebue’s spelling) which was about to be premiered in Frankfurt on 2 May, and which Kotzebue was in town to attend. Schröder comments rather critically on the play (his diary was, after all, not intended for anyone’s eyes but his own), while conceding that it would probably be popular. He then read the libretto of Mozart’s opera, the last item on his reading list for the morning.
,,Am 28sten April [...]
,, [...] So machen sie’s Alle, Singspiel
,,von Mozart componirt, ist ein elendes Ding, das alle
,,Weiber herabsetzt, Zuschauerinnen unmöglich gefallen
,,kann, und daher kein Glück machen wird.”
[Meyer 1819, ii/1:63; Dokumente, 346]
“On 28 April [...]
[...] So machen sie’s Alle, a singspiel
composed by Mozart, is a miserable thing, that demeans
all women, cannot possibly please a female audience,
and thus will have no success.”
As Deutsch correctly points out, Schröder is judging the quality of the libretto, not Mozart’s setting of it, which he had not yet seen. He is also explicitly addressing the libretto’s dramatic content, not its expression (as he had done with the libretto of Oberon, for example).
But what version of the libretto for Così fan tutte did Schröder read on 28 Apr? The opera was about to be performed in Frankfurt in German translation, and it has been assumed that Schröder read the translation, rather than the Italian original. But Mozart’s opera was performed in Frankfurt under the title Liebe und Versuchung (as Stegmann had “rechristened” it, Schröder writes). If Schröder was reading the libretto in the translation that was about to be performed, why does he refer to it as “So machen sie’s Alle” in his diary entry, rather than Liebe und Versuchung?
“So machen sie’s alle” is a literal German translation of the phrase “così fan tutte” (although the explicitly feminine reference of “tutte” is lost), but it is not known to have been used in the title of any published or performed version of the libretto until 1794, when the opera was given at the Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna as Die Schule der Liebe, oder So machen sie’s alle!, in a translation (apparently lost) said to be by Karl Ludwig Giesecke, which premiered on 24 Aug 1794 (Deutsch 1937, 36). The libretto for the Frankfurt production of Liebe und Versuchung in 1791 is not known to have been published, so Schröder was not reading a printed version of it. Three German translations of Così fan tutte were in fact published by the end of 1791 in connection with productions of the opera in Prague, Donaueschingen, and Dresden (for details, see our commentary to Bernhard Wessely’s review in November 1792 of the first Berlin production of the opera). But it is very unlikely that any of these printed translations had actually appeared by the time Schröder was in Frankfurt. In any case, these translations are completely independent of the one used in Frankfurt. The Prague and Donaueschingen translations (which are versions of one another) both use “Eine machts wie die andere” in their titles for “così fan tutte,” and the Dresden translation uses “Eine wie die andere.” Both phrases are less literal translations of the original title than “so machen sie’s alle,” but they preserve the explicit feminine reference in the original Italian, and were probably used for that reason.
Claudia Maurer Zenck has reconstructed the text of the vocal numbers from the Frankfurt production of Liebe und Versuchung in 1791, based on the surviving score and performing parts (Zenck 2007, Anhang A, 361–72; the surviving original material is in D-F, Mus. Hs. Opern 380/1, 3, 9, 14). In the text of the Frankfurt version, Don Alfonso’s phrase “così fan tutte” in no. 30 of the original libretto is rendered as “so machen’s alle,” with five syllables, fitting the music for the original Italian, which Schröder’s “so machen sie’s alle,” with six syllables, does not. (“So machen’s alle” is used in the same place in the Prague and Donaueschingen versions for the same reason.)
It would seem then, that there are three main possibilities:
- It may be that Schröder read a copy of the printed Italian libretto of Così fan tutte from the original Viennese production, and simply wrote “So machen sie’s Alle” in his diary as an impromptu literal German translation of the original Italian title on the copy he was reading. Mozart had been in Frankfurt from 28 Sep to 16 Oct 1790 for the coronation of Leopold II as Holy Roman Emperor. Zenck (2007, 139ff) makes a plausible case that Mozart had brought the autograph of Così fan tutte with him to Frankfurt, and that the score used for the Frankfurt production the following year may have been copied directly from his autograph during Mozart’s visit (which, as she points out, explains how no. 30 from the autograph ended up in the collection of the Frankfurt opera, separated from the rest). It is entirely possible that Mozart had also brought copies of the printed Viennese libretto with him, or that the translator of the Frankfurt version had obtained the Italian original through some other means, and passed this copy on to Schröder to read.
On the other hand, Schröder’s grasp of Italian is uncertain, and he was not, in any case, looking for Italian repertoire to perform in Hamburg. Given his hectic reading schedule, he would almost certainly have preferred to read a German version if one were available. So this explanation is probably not very likely.
- Schröder may have read the text directly from the performing score. The title page of this manuscript includes both the complete Italian title and a German translation of it as: “So machen’s Alle / Ein Komisches Singspiel in 2 Aufzügen / Die Musik von Herrn Mozart” (see Didion & Schlichte 1990, F:171; a facsimile of part of the Italian portion of the title page is given in Zenck 2007, 144). It may be that Schröder saw “So machen’s Alle” on the title page and wrote down what he regarded as an improved version of this in his diary. If, on the other hand, the German title was not yet written on the title page when Schröder saw it (this score continued to be in use for later productions and contains various sorts of later entries), he may have made an impromptu translation of the original Italian title.
However, this score apparently does not include the spoken dialogue (which the Frankfurt production would have had in place of the simple recitatives of the original), and thus from Schröder’s point of view it would have been much less than ideal for evaluation. In any case, the ensemble would probably have needed the score for rehearsal. So this possibility is also relatively unlikely.
- He may have read a manuscript copy of the German translation that carried this same preliminary version of the title, “So machen’s Alle,” which he noted down in his diary in his improved form as “So machen sie’s Alle,” or it is possible that the manuscript already used the six-syllable form as its title. When he read the libretto on 28 Apr, he had probably not yet seen the “rechristened” title on the poster for the performance on 1 May, “Liebe und Versuchung.”
This, then, is perhaps the most likely explanation. Unfortunately, no such manuscript version of the Frankfurt libretto is known to survive, and the spoken dialogue appears to be lost, apart from some fragments that appear as cues.
On the evening of 28 Apr, the day he read the libretto of Mozart’s opera, Schröder attended a performance of Oberon. On the 29th (Meyer 1819, ii/i:65), he returned Fischer’s play (noting that the author seemed satisfied) and Schmieder’s Die Rätsel (noting that the author seemed less satisfied). Schröder then received an invitation to a banquet (“Gastmahl”) the following day from Friedrich Karl von Dalberg, intendant of the Mainzer Nationaltheater, the company performing in Frankfurt at the time. (Although Schröder does not say so, the banquet was probably given to celebrate the overlapping visits of Schröder and Kotzebue. Schröder refers to his prospective host as the “Mainzer Dalberg,” to distinguish him from the head of the theater in Mannheim, Wolfgang Heribert von Dalberg.) That evening, Schröder attended performances of the plays General Schlensheim und seine Familie by Christian Heinrich Spiess, and Kotzebue’s new one-act play Die edle Lüge, a “continuation” of his smash hit Menschenhaß und Reue (see our entry on Menschenhaß and its reference to Mozart).
On Sat, 30 Apr (Meyer 1819, ii/i:66) Schröder received a letter from August Wilhelm Iffland informing him that Gluck’s Iphigenie in Tauris would be performed in Mannheim the following day, and Schröder noted in his diary that he was determined to reach Mannheim in time for the performance; it was the next stop on his itinerary anyway. (A performance of Gluck’s opera did in fact take place in Mannheim on 1 May 1791; see Walter 1899, ii:323.) That evening in Frankfurt he attended a performance of Dittersdorf’s Die Liebe im Narrenhaus, noting with disapproval the racket (“Lärmen”) made by the Jews in the audience on their Sabbath. Dalberg’s banquet followed the performance (Schröder now refers to it as a “Bewirthung,” translated above as “reception”). Schröder found the event so enjoyable that he changed his mind and decided to remain in Frankfurt for the premieres of Mozart’s opera on 1 May and Kotzebue’s Der Papagoy on 2 May. His decision to remain in Frankfurt to see Mozart’s opera and Kotzebue’s play also explain Schröder’s use of the idiom “um den es mir eigentlich zu thun ist,” translated here as “which is my main purpose anyway”: Schröder is forgoing the chance to see Iphigenie in Tauris, a work he had undoubtedly seen more than once (in 1781–1782 when he was in Vienna, for example) in order to attend performances of two new works; evaluating new works was the purpose of his trip. This, then, is the context of the first part of the passage quoted at the top of this page.
On 1 May, Schröder attended the Frankfurt premiere of Così fan tutte, in German, under the title Liebe und Versuchung. Dokumente (346) reproduces only part of Schröder’s comment on the premiere: “Erbärmlich! Selbst von Mozarts Musik gefällt mir nur der zweite Aufzug” (“Pitiful! Even Mozart’s music pleased me only in the second act”). This extract was not new to Mozart scholarship when Deutsch published it in Dokumente: Jahn had already included it (albeit in a footnote) in the fourth volume of the first edition of his Mozart biography (Jahn 1859, 538–39, n. 39). Oddly, Deutsch states that Schröder’s comment is something he said after the premiere (or more precisely, that Meyer quotes him as saying: “Laut Meyer … soll Schröder nach der Premiere gesagt haben: …”), even though on the same page Deutsch has noted that Schröder’s comment on the libretto comes from his “diary” (“Tagebuch”). In fact, both opinions come from the same source: Meyer’s transcription of Schröder’s 1791 travel diary.
Both Jahn and Deutsch omit the rest of Schröder’s reaction to the performance. After commenting on the singer Friedrich Eunike (see below), Schröder goes on to write: “Alles schien unzufrieden, wie Kotzebue und ich, doch ward beim Schlusse stark geklatscht” (“Like Kotzebue and I, everyone seemed dissatisfied, yet there was strong applause at the end”). This adds a few notable details on the opera’s reception: it tells us that Kotzebue attended the Frankfurt premiere of Mozart’s opera and shared Schröder’s poor opinion of it, that the audience was likewise (in Schröder’s view) generally dissatisfied with it, but that they applauded strongly at the end anyway.
So far as we know, the Frankfurt premiere of Così fan tutte was the first performance of the opera outside Vienna and the first in German. (The exact date of the Prague premiere of the opera in 1791 is unknown, but was probably no earlier than that summer; the first performance in Donaueschingen was on 11 Sep 1791, and the first in Dresden on 5 Oct 1791.) In the secondary literature, the translation used in Frankfurt is sometimes credited jointly to Heinrich Gottlieb Schmieder (1763–1815) and Carl David Stegmann (1751–1826), and sometimes to Stegmann alone. (For the joint attribution, see Dokumente, 346; Zenck 2007, 135; and Brown 1995, 168. For the attribution to Stegmann alone, see Mohr 1968, 148; and Didion & Schlichte 1990, 172.) No secondary source that we have seen mentions a primary source for either attribution, and they may merely be guesses—although this has not kept them from being reproduced repeatedly in the Mozart literature. Both Schmieder and Stegmann were associated with the company of the Nationaltheater in Mainz at that time, Schmieder as author (“Theaterdichter,” as he is called in the Theater-Kalender for 1790), and Stegmann as singer, actor, director, and occasional composer. Both were in Frankfurt at the time of Schröder’s visit. Schröder refers to Stegmann in his diary, saying that he had “rechristened” the opera “Liebe und Versuchung”; but this statement in itself does not necessarily imply that Schröder thought Stegmann made the translation, only that he thought Stegmann was responsible for the version of the title on the poster (the poster is given in facsimile in Mohr 1968, 149, and Zenck 2007, 136).
In fact, although Stegmann composed music for several stage works, it is unclear whether he wrote or translated any libretti at all (see the brief discussion below in Notes). Schmieder, on the other hand, was very productive as an author and translator in a variety of genres. Unfortunately, his œuvre has been little studied, and no existing list of works provides an adequate overview. A compilation of accessible sources (summarized in the Notes below) shows that Schmieder has been credited in various sources with at least 25 libretti and a dozen plays, as well as at least six books. Most of his libretti are translations and adaptations from French or Italian. He translated most often from French (around 15 of the attributed libretti and half of the plays, the rest of which are originals), but perhaps as many as six libretti attributed to him are (or may be) translations from Italian originals. The most famous of these is his German translation of Mozart and Da Ponte’s Don Giovanni, the translation used for the Mainz and Frankfurt premieres of the opera as Don Juan in 1789; this same translation was printed along with the original Italian in Schott’s piano-vocal score of Don Giovanni published in 1791, an edition to which Mozart was a subscriber. (On the attribution of this translation to Schmieder, see our entry for 23 May 1789.) Other translations from Italian credited to Schmieder include Palomba and Paisiello’s Le gare generose (as Die beyden Flüchtlinge), Salieri’s Il talismano, probably in the 1788 revision (as Talisman, oder: Die Zigeuner), and Da Ponte and Salieri’s La cifra (published in 1795 as Die Entzifferung).
As we have seen, Schmieder was in Frankfurt at the time of the premiere of Liebe und Versuchung, and Schröder read two of his libretti on 26 Apr 1791: Die Rätsel, probably the singspiel that had been premiered in Mainz on 18 Dec 1790 as Zulima, oder Die Räthsel; and Die beyden Savoyarden (also published as Die beyden kleinen Savoyarden, the title Schröder uses), based on Marsollier and Dalayrac’s Deux petits Savoyards.
Schröder also attributes to Schmieder the translation of Salieri’s Axur that he saw on the evening of 26 Apr:
Gesehn: Axur, König von Ormus, Musik von Salieri,
Uebersetzung von Schmieder. [...]
[Meyer 1819, ii/1:60]
Seen: Axur, König von Ormus, music by Salieri,
Translation by Schmieder. [...]
Thus Schmieder seems a much more likely candidate to have made the translation of Così fan tutte than Stegmann. If Stegmann played any role at all in the preparation of the translation performed in Frankfurt, it may have been in asking Schmieder to add a role for Stegmann to play—the day-laborer Kasper (who is not in Da Ponte’s original)—and perhaps suggesting appropriate comic material for that character. Thus Schmieder should probably be credited with German translations of the libretti of two Mozart operas, not just one.
Liebe und Versuchung was performed only once in Frankfurt. That Mozart’s opera was performed only once during the company’s Frankfurt season does not, however, necessarily tell us anything about its reception. The company of the Nationaltheater in Mainz opened its short season in Frankfurt on 25 Apr 1791 (Annalen des Theaters, viii:44), the day after Schröder’s arrival, and presented its final performance of the season on 28 May, then returning to Mainz for several weeks. During the 34 days of its season in Frankfurt, the Mainzer Nationaltheater performed every day, and yet repeated only three works, all by the visiting Kotzebue: Die Sonnenjungfrau (25 Apr and 13 May), Das Kind der Liebe (6 and 25 May), and the afterpiece Die edle Lüge (29 Apr and 11 May).
In Frankfurt am Main wurde den 25. April
die Bühne eröffnet mit der Sonnenjungfrau [...]
Den 1. Mai. Liebe und Versuchung, ein
elendes, welsches Produkt mit der kraftvollen erha=
benen Musik eines Mozarts. Den 2. der Papagey,
oder Sturm und Ungewitter, ein Schauspiel in 3.
Aufz. von Kotzebue, (im Munuscript [sic]) zum erstenmal,
wurde mit allgemeinem lauten Beifall aufgenommen,
und dies von Rechtswegen [...]
[Annalen des Theaters, viii:46]
In Frankfurt am Main the stage was opened
on 25 April with Die Sonnenjungfrau [...]
On 1 May: Liebe und Versuchung, a miserable
Italian product with the powerful sublime music
of a Mozart. The 2nd: Der Papagey, oder Sturm
und Ungewitter, a play in 3 acts by Kotzebue
(in manuscript;), for the first time, was received
with general loud applause, and rightly so [...]
(This assessment of Liebe und Versuchung is included in Dokumente, 346.)
A version of the Frankfurt translation seems to have been used again for the Mannheim premiere of the opera on 12 May 1793, under the title Die Wette (the names of the characters in that performance are identical to those in Liebe und Versuchung; compare Walter 1899, 332, note 4, and the cast list below). According to a report in Annalen des Theaters (xii:57–58), the premiere in Mannheim was hissed, even though the excellence of Mozart’s music was generally recognized:
Schon vor vierzehn Monaten sollten wir die
Wette, ein Singspiel nach Cosi fan tutti [sic], mit Mo=
zarts Musik sehen; aber mancherlei Umstände verhin=
derten es. Endlich ward dies so oft angekündigte
Stück den 12. Mai gegeben, und mißfiel gänzlich.
Welche Idee muß man von unserm Geschmacke haben,
daß man uns solchen erbärmlichen Unsinn vorsetzt?
Ich weiß wohl, daß bei Singspielen Musik das erste
ist, was unsrer Aufmerksamkeit sich bemächtigt; al=
lein dem denkenden Zuschauer kann man es doch auch
nicht übel nehmen, wenn er in dem Stücke selbst auch
einigen Sinn finden will. Das Publikum erkannte
den Werth der vortrefflichen Mozartischen Musik, und
ließ den Sängern und Sängerinnen Gerechtigkeit wie=
derfahren, und — zischte das Stück aus. Wohl
dem Schauspieler, der vor einem Publikum auftritt,
welches ihn die Jämmerlichkeiten jener zweigdeutigen
Wesen nicht entgelten läßt, die am Fuße des Parnas=
ses im Koth herum kriechen, und aus Hyppokrenens
Quelle zu trinken glauben! — —
[Annalen des Theaters, xii:57–58; see also Mohr 1968, 150]
Already fourteen months ago we were supposed
to see Die Wette, a singspiel after Così fan tutte, with
Mozart’s music; but various circumstances prevented
it. Finally this piece, so often announced, was given
on 12 May, and displeased utterly. What idea must
they have of our taste, that they serve us such
pitiful nonsense? I well know that with singspiels,
music is the first thing that seizes our attention; but
one cannot blame the thinking spectator if he also
wants to find some sense in the piece itself. The
public recognized Mozart’s splendid music, and had
the male and female singers called back — and
hissed the piece. All credit to the actor who appears
before a public that does not let him be blamed for
the wretchedness of these suggestive creatures, who
crawl about in the dung at the foot of Parnassus, and
think they are drinking from the Hippocrene spring.
(The Hippocrene spring on Mt. Helicon was sacred to the Muses.) While the final sentence implies that the reviewer found the content salacious, it is also clear that he or she felt that the plot did not make sense. This version was performed only once in Mannheim, and the opera was not performed there again until 21 Apr 1799, when it was given in a new version (Walter 1899, ii:358).
By the time Meyer wrote his biography of Schröder more than a quarter of a century after the Frankfurt premiere, he felt the need to soften Schröder’s criticism, interjecting the following between Schröder’s “Erbärmlich! Selbst von Mozarts Musik gefällt mir nur der zweite Aufzug” and the continuation of the passage from the diary:
[...] (Dieses Urtheil scheint zu strenge.
Die Musik hat unübertreffliche Weichheit und Wohllaut,
und einige leichte Aenderungen könnten wohl auch das
Stück zu dem machen was es seyn soll. Nur muß man
von einem wollüstigen Scherz nicht mehr begehren, als
ihm entspricht. Die Gesetze des Comus und der Cythere
sollen ja nicht allgemein gültig seyn. In Sparta frei=
lich würde man sogar ihre bloße Kunde untersagen.) [...]
[Meyer 1819, ii/1:68]
[...] (This judgment seems too harsh. The
music is of unsurpassable tenderness and melodiousness,
and a few light alterations could even perhaps make the piece
what it should be. It is only that one must not demand more
from a lusty joke than it offers. The laws of Komos and
Kythira are not supposed to be valid everywhere. In Sparta
of course, one would be forbidden even merely to announce
The Cast of Liebe und Versuchung
The cast of the Frankfurt production of Liebe und Versuchung on 1 May 1791 is known from the surviving poster (facsimiles in Mohr 1968, 149, and Zenck 2007, 136). The names of the characters were Germanized or changed to German alternatives. Kasper, who is not in Da Ponte and Mozart’s original, was a largely spoken role added apparently in order to give a part to Carl David Stegmann, who was responsible for the company’s opera productions and a good comic actor and singer.
Margarethe Luise Schick
Johann Baptist Hübsch
Annette Christine Mende
Doktor Schneller (Alfonso)
Joachim Friedrich Mende
Carl David Stegmann
The soprano Juliane (Julie) Walter, née Roberts (b. 1763), sang the role of Franziska (Fiordiligi) in the Frankfurt production. She had been married since 1786 to tenor and composer Ignaz Walter (1755–1822), as we know from an clever musically-themed poem written in honor of their wedding in Riga on 8 Feb 1786 (Annalen des Theaters 1788, i:10). At the time of the premiere of Liebe und Versuchung in 1791, both were members of the electoral court chapel in Mainz, and both performed with the Nationaltheater. Gerber (Neues Lexikon, iv, col. 503) writes of her singing:
Walter (Juliane) [...]
wird nicht minder zu den
beliebtesten Sängerinnen des deutschen
Theaters wegen ihrer Fertigkeit und ihres
Geschmackes im Vortrage sowohl, als we=
gen ihrer angenehmen Stimme gezählt.
Besonders aber soll sie sich die italiänische
Manier im Gesange so ganz zu eigen ge=
macht haben, daß man in ihr eine italiäni=
sche Sängerin zu hören glaubt; wozu ohn=
streitig vieles beyträgt, daß sie diese Spra=
che vollkommen gut spricht.
Walter (Juliane) [...]
counts among the most
beloved singers of the German theater,
not only because of her skill and taste in
execution, but also because of her pleasant
voice. In particular she is said to have made
the Italian manner of singing so much her
own that one thinks one is hearing an Italian
singer; without question it contributes much
to this impression that she speaks this
Madame Walter had sung the Countess in the Frankfurt premiere of Figaro on 11 Oct 1788 (Mohr 1968, 92; see also Dramaturgische Blätter [Frankfurt], i/2/4:89) and Donna Anna in the Frankfurt premiere of Don Juan on 3 May 1789 (Mohr 1968, 99 and 110–11); she almost certainly also sang the same roles in the Mainz premieres of these same operas, on 25 Nov 1789 and 13 Mar 1789 respectively. Given her experience with Mozart’s vocal writing and her Italianate singing style, she would have been particularly well-suited to the virtuosic role of Fiordiligi. Schröder does not comment on her singing in Liebe und Versuchung, but he does comment on her appearance as Constanze in Dittersdorf’s Die Liebe im Narrenhaus the previous day, 30 Apr 1791:
Madame Walter, Constanze, hat eine sehr angenehme
Stimme, und macht die Passagen mit Leichtigkeit, be=
sitzt aber nicht das Feuer und die Leichtigkeit, die einen
rohen Haufen hinreißen. Auch scheint sie in diesem so=
genannten Publikum eine Partei wider sich zu haben.
[Meyer 1819, ii/1:66]
Madame Walter, Constanze, has a very pleasant
voice and does the passages with facility, but
does not have the fire and facility that thrill
a rough crowd. She also seems to have a party
against her in this so-called public.
Walter later sang with Großmann’s company, when her husband became its music director. Sadly, her career is said to have ended when she became blind while the couple was in Bremen (Kutsch & Riemens 2003, 4963).
The role of Friederike (Dorabella) in the Frankfurt premiere of Liebe und Versuchung was sung by Margarethe Luise Schick (1773–1809), née Hamel, who had turned 18 just five days earlier, on 26 Apr 1791. Born in Mainz, her musical talent had been recognized from a young age, and she studied singing with (Franziska) Josepha Hellmuth in Mainz, Domenico Steffani in Würzburg, and finally Righini in Mainz. At 15 she was appointed to the electoral court chapel in Mainz. She sang the role of Zerlina in the Frankfurt premiere of Don Juan, on 3 May 1789 (Mohr 1968, 99 and 111–12) just after turning 16; by this point (she is referred to as “Madame Schick” on the poster for the performance), she was already married to Johann Ernst Christoph Schick, a violinist in the Electoral orchestra in Mainz and director of the opera orchestra for the Nationaltheater (Theater-Kalender 1790, 93).
The Dramaturgische Blätter of Frankfurt (ii/2/1:119) noted that she appeared there as Blonde in Die Entführung aus dem Serail on 7 May 1789, just a few days after the premiere of Don Juan, and the same journal (ii/3/7:101) reported her appearance in Frankfurt as Susanna in Figaro on 17 Oct 1789, with Juliane Walter as the Countess. Schick probably also sang Susanna in the Mainz premiere of Figaro on 25 Nov 1789, and she probably sang Zerlina in the Mainz premiere of Don Juan on 13 Mar 1789. As in the case of Madame Walter, Schröder says nothing about Schick’s performance in Liebe und Versuchung, but he does comment on her appearances on 28 Apr 1791 as Almansaris in Oberon and 30 Apr as Clärchen in Die Liebe im Narrenhaus:
Almansaris, Madam Schick, sang vortrefflich, besonders
eine Arie und ein Rondeau, die Stegmann meisterhaft
componirt hat. Das gute liebenswürdige Weibchen
strengt sich aber zu sehr an, um lange singen zu kön=
nen. [Meyer 1819, ii/1:64]
Madame Schick, Clärchen, spielte gut, war aber im Ge=
sang wieder Almansaris, mit zu großen, obgleich schö=
ne Manieren. [Meyer 1819, ii/1:66–67]
Almansaris, Madame Schick, sang splendidly, especially
an aria and rondò that Stegmann had masterfully
composed. The good lovable little woman strains too
much, however, to be able to sing for long.
Madame Schick, Clärchen, acted well, but she sang as
Almansaris again, with embellishments that were too
grand, although beautiful.
According to Deutsch, Schick sang the soprano solo in Righini’s Missa solemnis at the Frankfurt coronation of Leopold II as Holy Roman Emperor on 9 Oct 1790 (Dokumente, 328), and she also took part in Mozart’s concert in Frankfurt on 15 Oct. In the first half of that concert she sang what Count Bentheim-Steinfurt described in his diary as “une superbe Scene Italienne non so di chi que Madame Schick chanta avec une expression infinie” (Dokumente, 329), and in the second half she sang a duet with castrato Francesco Ceccarelli, who had been in the Archbishop’s Kapelle at Salzburg from 1777 to 1788, but was now a member of the Electoral Kapelle in Mainz. A short biography of Schick published after her premature death in 1809 includes a (possibly apocryphal) anecdote about Mozart’s reaction to her singing:
Noch in dieser Periode ihres Kunst-
lebens war es, als sie bey Gelegen-
heit der Krönung Kaiser Leopold’s des
zweiten zu Frankfurt am Mayn meh-
rere Scenen in einem Konzerte sang,
welches der berühmte Mozart daselbst
vor einem der glänzendsten Auditorien
aufführte. Der grosse Tonkünstler selbst
war entzückt von der schönen Stimme
der Sängerin. Als er sie auch noch zum
öftern auf der Bühne hörte, brach er
mehr als einmal hingerissen von der Un-
vergleichlichkeit des Gesanges und dem
kunstvollen Vortrage in die, zumal in
seinem Munde so bedeutungsvollen
Worte aus: «Nun will ich nicht
weiter singen hören» —
[Levezow 1809, 14–15]
It was still in this period of her artistic
life that, on the occasion of the coronation
of Emperor Leopold II in Frankfurt am Main,
she sang several scenes in a concert given
by the famous Mozart himself, before the
most glittering audience. The great
musician was himself enchanted by
the singer’s beautiful voice.
Having occasion also to hear her on
the stage, and entranced by her incomparable
singing and artful execution, he more than
once exclaimed, with words especially
meaningful coming from his lips:
“Now I will hear no other singing.”
Jahn includes Mozart’s reported comment (although not the full anecdote) in the second edition of his biography (Jahn 1867, ii:459), but it is omitted from Dokumente and its supplements, presumably because it is unsubstantiated hearsay published 18 years after the composer’s death. But it should perhaps not be dismissed out of hand: Mozart could have heard Schick (and probably did hear her) at least once on stage. The Mainzer Nationaltheater was performing in Frankfurt before and during the period around Leopold’s coronation, but to judge by a report in the Annalen des Theaters (1791, vii:20–42), the company seems to have given only one opera while Mozart was in town: Wranitzky’s Oberon on 15 Oct, the evening of the same day as Mozart’s concert, which had begun at 11 in the morning. In spite of having sung at Mozart’s concert, Madame Schick performed again that evening in Oberon, probably as Almansaris (Annalen des Theaters, vii:41; the reviewer notes that she appeared as the “Sultanin von Tanis [sic]” but must mean Almansaris, wife of Almansor, Bassa of Tunis); this is the same role Schröder heard her sing the following April. The reviewer writes that “Madam Schick sang, wie gewöhnlich sehr gut” (“Madame Schick sang very well, as usual”) and reports that everything she sang in the last act was a “Zusatz” composed by Stegmann. It seems likely that Mozart would have been at this performance.
King Friedrich Wilhelm II heard Schick in Frankfurt in 1792 (where he was leading an army that dislodged the occupying French), and was so taken by her singing that he had her engaged for Berlin, where she made her debut in the palace theater on 8 Dec 1793 (Brachvogel 1878, ii:341). She spent the rest of her career in that city, singing mainly with its Nationaltheater company, and developing a reputation as one of the greatest sopranos of her generation. Among her notable Mozart roles in Berlin was Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, which she first sang with the Nationaltheater on 23 Oct 1794 (Brachvogel 1878, ii:368). On 28 Feb 1796 she was one of the singers who participated in the performance of extracts from Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito at a concert given in the royal opera house by Constanze Mozart (Brachvogel 1878, ii:419). Schick died on 29 Apr 1809, just three days after her thirty-sixth birthday. Mozart’s Requiem was performed in her honor at a funeral mass on 9 May by all the singers of the Berlin Nationaltheater and opera, its orchestra, and the royal chamber musicians, supplemented by members of the Berlin Singakademie (Leverzow 1809, 68–69; AmZ 1809, 48:col. 762).
Although he seems to have had a fairly successful career, relatively little is known of the bass Johann Baptist Hübsch, who sang the role of Wilhelm (Guglielmo) in the Frankfurt premiere of Liebe und Versuchung. Even the dates of his birth and death are uncertain. Current reference works agree that he was born in 1764 in Jamnitz (Jemnice) in Moravia, near the present-day Austrian border (see Kutsch & Riemens 2003, 2163, and the page on Hübsch at WeGA). But Reichard’s Theater-Kalender for 1792 (180) gives his year of birth as 1755. Hübsch made his debut with the Nationaltheater in Mainz on 6 Feb 1790 as the apothecary Stößel in Dittersdorf’s Doktor und Apotheker, “mit dem größten verdientesten Beifall” (“with the greatest, most deserved applause”), according to an anonymous correspondent to Annalen des Theaters (v:72). The same journal (and perhaps the same correspondent) gave a somewhat mixed report on Hübsch’s performance as Scherasmin in Oberon in Frankfurt on 15 Oct 1790; this was the same performance in which Margarethe Luise Schick appeared and that Mozart may have attended:
Den 15ten [Oct] — Oberon.
Herr Hübsch als Scherasmin
spielt mit Laune und macht zu lachen. Ueberhaupt
muß ich von ihm sagen, daß er seine Stimme ganz
in seiner Gewalt hatte. Er kann ihr Stärke, und
Anmuth geben. Seine Deklamation ist oft nicht rich=
tig und sein Oesterreichscher Dialekt samt seiner Art
— vermöge welcher er bisweilen etwas übertreibt,
haben es zeither gemacht, daß er nicht ganz gefallen
[Annalen des Theaters, vii:41]
On 15 [Oct]. Oberon.
Herr Hübsch as Scherasmin
acts with humor and makes one laugh. Overall
I must say of him that he has his voice entirely
under his control. He can give it strength and
grace. His declamation is often incorrect, and
his Austrian dialect along with his manner —
whereby he occasionally somewhat overacts
— have made it so that up to now he has not
entirely pleased. [...]
But a few months later, the correspondent to the Annalen is able to report that Hübsch has begun to tone down his (allegedly) Austrian tendency to overact. Regarding Hübsch’s performance in Doktor und Apotheker in Frankfurt on 14 May 1791, just two weeks after his appearance as Wilhelm in Liebe und Versuchung, the correspondent writes:
Den 14. [Oct] der Doktor und der Apotheker. Herr
Hübsch fängt jetzt an und nähert sich in seinem Spiel
und Gesange mehr der Wahrheit als sonst. Er hat
sich’s von guten Freunden sagen lassen, daß die im
Oesterreichischen beliebte Manier nicht hier Statt habe.
Jetzt giebt er seine Rollen schlecht weg, wie sie da
liegen, ohne alle unnütze Zusätze und auf diesem We=
ge ärndtet er Beifall und Lob ein. So spielte er heu=
te seinen Apotheker ganz einfach und gefiel.
[Annalen des Theaters, viii:47]
On 14 [Oct]. Doktor und Apotheker. Herr
Hübsch has now begun to approach reality more
closely in his acting and singing than previously.
He allowed himself to be told by good friends
that the style favored in Austria has no place here.
Now he simply plays his roles as they stand,
without any unnecessary additions, and in this way
he earns applause and praise. Thus today he
played his Apothecary quite simply, and he pleased.
He seems to have appeared as Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail in Frankfurt just one week after his performance in Dittersdorf’s opera, although the report in Annalen des Theaters has an apparent misprint:
[...] Den 21. [Mai] die Ent=
führung aus dem Serail. Herr Hübsch als Oheim [sic]
ärndete Beifall ein. Es galt hier von ihm, was ich
über sein Spiel als Apotheker schon oben gesagt habe.
[Annalen des Theaters, viii:48]
[...] On 21 [May], Die Entführung
aus dem Serail. Herr Hübsch as Oheim reaped
applause. What I have already said above about
his acting as the Apothecary is valid here.
If we assume that “Oheim” (uncle) is meant to be “Osmin” (arguably a plausible mistake for a typesetter to make), then it seems that Hübsch sang this role in Frankfurt just three weeks after appearing in Liebe und Versuchung. Schröder does not mention Hübsch in his appraisal of Liebe und Versuchung, but he does make a positive comment on Hübsch’s performance as Bast in Die Liebe im Narrenhaus the previous day:
Bast, sang vortrefflich, besonders die Arie: O so ein
Hund u. s. w., und übertrieb nicht im Spiel.
[Meyer 1819, ii/1:66]
Bast, sang splendidly, especially the aria: “O so ein
Hund” etc. and did not overplay in his acting.
The reference is to Bast’s aria “O! So ein Hund ist nicht mehr werth, als daß er in die Hölle fährt,” in Act 2 of Dittersdorf’s opera.
The Nationaltheater in Mainz disbanded not long after the occupation of the city by the French in 1792. Hübsch joined the company of the Frankfurt theater, where he went on to sing the role of Sarastro in the Frankfurt premiere of Die Zauberflöte on 17 Aug 1793 (see the facsimile of the poster in Mohr 1968, 159). He is said also to have sung Leporello in the Frankfurt revival of Don Juan in 1794, Bartolo in the first production of Figaro by the Frankfurt Nationaltheater in 1795, and Don Alfonso in the new production of Così in Frankfurt in 1796 (Mohr 1968, 173). In 1796 the Theater Kalender Mannheim (also referred to as the Taschenbuch fürs Theater) writes of Hübsch:
— Hr. Hübsch, Bouffons
und ernsthafte Baßrollen in der Oper. Nicht leicht
wird der Gesang des Hr. H. an Reinigkeit und
Stärke übertroffen werden. Aber man sieht ihn
lieber in ernsthaften als in komischen Rollen. Als
Theodor im König Theodor und als Sarastro in
der Zauberflöte hat er sich durch seinen schönen
Gesang und durch gutes Spiel vorzüglichen Beifall
erworben. Er hat eine der ersten Stellen in der
Gunst des Publikums. —
[Theater Kalender (Mannheim) 1796, part ii, 41;
also quoted in Mohr 1968, 173]
— Herr Hübsch, buffo
and serious bass roles in the opera. The purity
and strength of Herr H’s singing is not easily
surpassed. But one prefers to see him in serious,
rather than comic roles. He has received applause
above all as Theodor in König Theodor and as
Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte through his beautiful
singing and good acting. He holds one of the highest
places in the public’s favor.
Hübsch made guest appearances in Hamburg in Mar 1797 as Axur, Sarastro, Osmin (in Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Leporello, and Stößl (Meyer 1819, ii/1:141). He performed with the Nationaltheater in Berlin for one season, in 1797–1798 (Ledebur 1861, 258); he is also said to have been a member of the court theater in Dessau from 1798 to 1800 and a member of the German theater in St. Petersburg from 1800 to at least 1804 (WeGA). His later career seems to have been even more peripatetic, with documented performances in a variety of German cities.
Hübsch also tried his hand at writing and composing. His libretto for a celebratory cantata on the defeat of the French was published in 1815: Der Ruhm der siegreichen Mächte und huldvollen Retter des beglückten Deutschlands (The Glory of the Victorious Powers and Benevolent Saviors of a Delighted Germany). That same year, on 12 Mar, Hübsch gave a “Musicalisch=mimisches Concert” (“A musical-memetic concert”), in Düsseldorf, on which he included several works, apparently his own, in a similar vein.
Some current reference works (Kutsch & Riemens, for example) state without citing a source that Hübsch died in Rome in 1815 while on a concert tour, but at least one reference (WeGA) claims that he was still alive in 1824, when a benefit concert is said to have been given in his behalf in St. Petersburg.
The role of Ferdinand (Ferrando) in the Frankfurt premiere of Liebe und Versuchung was sung by tenor Friedrich Eunike (also Eunicke, 1764–1844), born in Sachsenhausen bei Oranienbug. In 1786 he was engaged as a singer at the margravial court in Schwedt, where he also made his stage debut that same year, also attracting favorable notice for his appearance that year in the first performance of Messiah in Berlin (Ledebur 1861, 140). In 1788 in Schwedt he married the actress Henriette Schüler. The couple joined the company of the Nationaltheater in Mainz in 1789.
Eunike is the only performer Schröder mentions in his brief appraisal of Mozart’s opera; he writes:
Von Eunike bekomm’ ich mit jedem Tage eine höhere
Meinung. Er sang den ersten Tenor, mit vielem Ge=
schmack. Auch sagt man mir, daß ich seiner Stimme
jetzt nicht völlig Gerechtigkeit widerfahren lassen könne,
weil er sich gar nicht wohl befindet.
[Meyer 1819, ii/1:68]
My opinion of Eunike rises daily. He sang the first tenor
with much taste. And I have been told that I cannot judge
his voice with complete accuracy, because he is not well.
Schröder had first mentioned Eunike on 25 Apr: regarding the his performance in the role of Zornai in Kotzebue’s play Die Sonnenjungfrau, Schröder wrote merely: “Eunike, Zorai, läßt mich nicht viel vermuthen” (Meyer 1819, ii/1:58; “Eunike as Zorai did not give me much to go on”). Schröder first heard Eunike sing in the performance of Die Liebe im Narrenhaus on 30 Apr, in the role of Albert:
Eunike, Albert, lernte ich erst heute
als einen braven Sänger kennen. Seine Stimme ist
nicht so gut als die des älteren Walter, aber er hat
Methode und Festigkeit. [Meyer 1819, ii/1:67]
Eunike, Albert, I became acquainted
with only today as a fine singer. His voice is
not as good as the elder Walter, but he has
method and consistency.
(The reference is to Ignaz Walter.) This is the context of Schröder’s comment about Eunike in Liebe und Versuchung: by the time of that performance, Schröder had heard that Eunike had been unwell and thus was not at his best, and had begun to realize that Eunike was a much more capable singer and actor than he had at first realized.
After the Nationaltheater in Mainz disbanded in 1792, Eunike and his wife are said to have been briefly in Bonn; they then performed with the German theater in Amsterdam in 1793 and 1794. According to a cast list printed in the libretto for a production of Don Juan in that theater, Eunike appeared as Don Ottavio, his wife as Donna Elvira, and soprano Therese Schwachhofer (1776–1849), who had been Eunike’s student in Mainz, as Donna Anna. Schwachhofer seems, in fact, already to have been in the chorus for the Frankfurt performance of Liebe und Versuchung in 1791 (Zenck 2007, 137, note 4).
According to Ledebur (1861, 140) Eunike also appeared in Amsterdam as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte.
Displaced again by the war, the Eunikes were in Frankfurt early in 1795, where they were seen on stage by “Baurath Itzig” (apparently Isaak Daniel Itzig), who recommended that they be engaged for Berlin (Brachvogel 1878, 390). Although nothing came of this immediately, they were in Berlin by the end of July 1796. Henriette Eunike made her first guest appearance there on 29 Jul, and her husband made his first guest appearance as Tamino on 9 Aug. The couple were immediately engaged by the Nationaltheater, and Eunike made his debut as a member of the company on 14 Aug as Belmonte. He remained with the Berlin company for the rest of his career, retiring in 1823. Eunike separated from his wife in 1797; she married four times in all, and went on to considerable fame of her own in the theater, eventually under the name Hendel-Schütz, combining the names of her third and fourth husbands. That same year Eunike married Therese Schwachhofer, who had followed them to Berlin. She likewise had been engaged by the Nationaltheater in 1796, and had a long and successful career in Berlin, retiring in 1830. Her Mozart roles there included Zerlina, Sextus (in a German version of La clemenza di Tito), Susanna, Blonde, Papagena, and Charlotte (Fiordiligi), in Mädchentreue, yet another version of Così fan tutte (Ledebur 1861, 143). For his part, Eunike’s roles in Berlin included Titus, Ottavio (which he sang 56times), and Fernando (Ferrando) in Mädchentreue (Ledebur 1861, 141). Eunike also composed. Simrock published his piano-vocal score of Die Zauberflöte in 1793 (RISM A/1 M 4780; scanned copy at archive.org); he was also active as a lieder composer, and was a member of Carl Friedrich Zelter’s Liedertafel from 1809 to 1831.
The roles of Laurette (Despina) and Doktor Schneller (Don Alfonso) in the Frankfurt premiere of Liebe und Versuchung were taken by the married couple Annette Christine Mende (née Christ) and Joachim Friedrich Mende. Both came from theatrical families. He was the son of actors Adelheid and Joachim Friedrich Mende. Joachim Friedrich fils made his stage debut in Riga in 1776, and it was in Riga in 1786 that he married Annette Christine Christ (or Crist, b. 1768), eldest daughter of actor Joseph Anton Christ. The young Mende couple (and also her father) joined the Nationaltheater in Mainz in 1789. Annette Christine made her debut on 19 May 1789 as Princess Eboli in Schiller’s Don Karlos (Annalen des Theaters, v:68) and Joachim Friedrich made his debut on 2 Jun as Junker Hans von Ullerndorf in Schröder’s Irrthum auf allen Ecken (Annalen des Theaters, v:69). Both seem to have been active primarily in the spoken theater, and nothing substantive is known about their singing. According to the Theater-Kalender for 1790 (91c–92), Madame Mende played “erste Liebhaberinnen in Schau= und Lustspiel, muntere schlaue und naive Mädchen, verkleidete Rollen, singt auch in der Oper” (“first female lovers in plays and comedies; spirited, clever, and naive maidens, trouser roles, also sings in the opera”). The same source writes that Herr Mende played “komische Alte und Bediente, Dümmlinge, im Lust= und Singspiel” (“comic old men and servants, dimwits, in comedies and singspiel”).
The role of “Kasper, ein Lehnbedienter” (Kasper, a day laborer) does not appear in Da Ponte’s original libretto for Così fan tutte, and it seems to have been added simply in order to create a part for Carl David Stegmann (1751–1826). The multitalented Stegmann—actor, tenor, skilled keyboard player and violinist, and a composer of considerable accomplishment—was born in Staucha near Meißen in 1751. He received good musical training in his youth, and as an actor made his debut in Breslau (now Wrocław) in 1772. In subsequent years he was also active in Königsberg, Heilsberg, Danzig, and Gotha; during these early years he also composed several singspiels, some of which were published. He and his wife Caroline became members of the ensemble of the Hamburg theater in 1778; he made his debut there on 23 Apr 1778 in Das Milchmädchen, an adaptation of the opéra comique Les Deux Chasseurs et la Laitière by Anseaume and Duni. Stegmann is said to have composed his opera Clarisse for the Hamburg stage in 1778 (McCredie 2017), and he wrote incidental music for two Shakespeare plays in Hamburg: King Lear, in Schröder’s adaptation, performed on 17 Jul 1778 (Schütze 1794, 469); and Macbeth, performed on 21 Jul 1779 (Schütze 1794, 476), with Schröder as Macbeth and his wife as Lady Macbeth. From 1783 to 1787 Stegmann was with Großmann’s company, serving as its music director (see Theater-Kalender 1785, 209). He maintained his link with Hamburg by appearing in guest roles there in 1788 (Schütze 1794, 615; Meyer 1819, ii/1:34).
By 1788, Stegmann was a member of the Frankfurt company that was soon to form the core of the new Nationaltheater in Mainz. The Theater-Kalender for 1789 writes of him:
Hr. Stegmann, komische und zärtliche Alte,
auch einige junge muntere Rollen. [...]
ser Mesd. Böheim und Fiala, und den Herrn
Koch und Wollschowsky spielen sämmtlich ge=
nannte Herrn und Damen im Schau= und
Singspiel. Vom letztern hat Hr. Stegmann
die besondre Aufsicht und Besorgniß. [...]
[Theater-Kalender 1789, 161]
Herr Stegmann, comic and tender old men,
also some young, spirited roles. [...]
for Mesdames Böheim and Fiala, and Herrn
Koch and Wollschowksy, all of the named
gentlemen and ladies perform in the plays and
the singspiels. Herr Stegmann has particular
supervision and care over the latter. [...]
Stegmann, in addition to his duties on stage, took on the responsibility for arranging and rehearsing the singspiels for the new Mainz company. Although not listed in this capacity in the rosters for the Nationaltheater in the Theater-Kalender (see also the volume for 1790), he is identified on the title page of the libretto for his 1792 opera Heinrich der Löwe as “C. D. Stegmann, Operndirektor des Kurfürstl. Mainzischen Nationaltheaters” (“C. D. Stegmann, Opera Director of the Electoral Nationaltheater in Mainz.”
In a letter to Großmann from Frankfurt on 24 Apr 1789, Goethe’s mother Catharina Elisabeth Goethe (1731–1808, often called “Frau Rat Goethe”) explicitly refers to Stegmann as “opera director”:
Stegmann ist jetzt der Liebling des hiesigen und Mainzer publicums — er ist opern director — hat jetzt gute Singstimmen — Madam Helmuth — Madam Schick — Madam Walther — er läßt die opern recht einstudiren — und wenn Koch doll würde, so giebt er keine Neue biß die Leute sie aus dem Fundament hertrillern können — da nun Koch es mit dem Schauspiel just umgekerth macht — und die Leute mit den Rollen keine Zeit gelaßen wird, so folgt ganz nathürlich, daß alles in die Oper läuft — und beym Schauspiel lehre Bänke in menge sind. Weil [n]un Stegmann dadurch der Kaße mehr einbringt als Koch; so ist leicht zu begreifen, daß er hir u in Maintz sehr gut angeschrieben ist — auch hat er sich auf 12 Jahr aufs neue anwerben laßen. [Köster 1904, 206]
Stegmann is now the favorite of the public here and in Mainz — He is opera director — He now has good voices — Madame Hellmuth — Madame Schick — Madame Walther — He has the operas properly rehearsed — and if Koch were willing, he wouldn’t give a new one until people could trill off everything from a firm foundation — Since at present Koch does the exact opposite with the plays — and people are allowed no time with the roles, it thus follows naturally that everyone goes to the opera — and lots of benches are empty at the plays. Because Stegmann thus brings in more box-office than Koch, it is easy to understand that he is much in favor here and in Mainz — thus he also let himself be re-engaged for 12 years.
Stegmann also occasionally composed music for the Mainz ensemble. We have seen that he composed new music added to the company’s performance of Wranitzky’s Oberon (on these modifications, see Bauman 1985, 249–50), and he also wrote the music for Kotzebue’s “orientalisches Scherzspiel mit Gesang,” Sultan Wampum. Stegmann’s opera Heinrich der Löwe, with a libretto by Schmieder, was performed by the Mainz company in Frankfurt on 15 Jul 1792 for the coronation of Franz II as Holy Roman Emperor (the last such emperor, as it would turn out).
Stegmann sang the title role in the Frankfurt premiere of a German version of Mozart’s Figaro on 11 Oct 1788 (for the commentary in the Dramaturgische Blätter [Frankfurt] on his performance, see our entry for that date), and may have sung the same role in the Mainz premiere on 25 Nov 1789. He also sang the title role in the Mainz premiere of Don Juan on 13 Mar 1789, the earliest known performance of that opera in German (using Schmieder’s translation; see also our entry for that date), and sang the same role in the Frankfurt premiere of the opera on 3 May 1789 (see Mohr 1968, 99, 108–9).
Regarding Stegmann’s performance in Frankfurt on 10 Jul 1790 in (presumably) a German adaptation of Dittersdorf’s Democrito corretto, a correspondent to the Annalen des Theaters wrote:
Den 10ten [July]—Democrit, [...]
Stegmann hingegen als der Schüler des Democrits
leistete Alles, was seine Rolle erforderte. Herr
Stegmann ist überhaupt ein sehr brauchbarer, er=
fahrner Schauspieler. In der Oper und in der Ko=
mödie füllt er seine Stelle sehr gut aus. In der
Oper ist er die Seele der Vorstellung — seine schönen
musikalischen Kenntnisse machen ihn allgemein beliebt
und schätzenswerth, obgleich sein Gesang eben nicht der
beste ist. [Annalen des Theaters, vii:25–26]
On the 10th [July]—Demokrit, [...]
Stegmann, on the other hand, as Democritus’
student, achieved everything that his role
required. Herr Stegmann is in general a very
usable, experienced actor. In opera and in spoken
theater he fills his roles very well. In the opera
he is the soul of the performance — his excellent
understanding of music make him generally
popular and estimable, although his singing is
not actually the best.
(The correspondent is comparing Stegmann to Hübsch, who sang the title role.)
Probably because Stegmann knew Schröder from the Hamburg theater, where they had worked together, it was Stegmann who gave Schröder a tour of the Frankfurt theater on the day he arrived, 24 Apr 1791. The next day, Schröder saw Stegmann perform the role of the Inca Altaliba in Kotzebue’s Die Sonnenjungfrau. Schröder wrote candidly in his diary:
Stegmann, Ataliba, spielte mit
mehr Würde als ich ihm zugetraut hätte, und richtig.
Schade, daß er durch die Zähne spricht.
[Meyer 1819, ii/1:58]
Stegmann, Ataliba, acted with
more gravitas that I would have given him credit
for, and correctly. It’s a pity he speaks through his
If Zenck’s thesis is correct that the performing score for Liebe und Versuchung was copied from Mozart’s autograph of Così fan tutte when the composer was in Frankfurt for the coronation of Leopold II in 1790, it would probably have been Stegmann with whom Mozart dealt. As de facto opera director, Stegmann would also have been responsible for making any necessary adaptations of Mozart’s music for the German version given in Frankfurt. In the case of Liebe und Versuchung, the adaptations seem to have been relatively minor. Zenck (2007, 141) suggests that it was Stegmann who decided to have the copyist omit from the Frankfurt score Don Alfonso’s short arioso, “Nel mar solca,” following no. 10; this omission particularly makes sense if Stegmann already had Mende in mind for the role, since Mende was not primarily a singer. Zenck also attributes to Stegmann the decision to remove Dorabella’s and Fiordiligi’s accompanied recitatives preceding, respectively, “Smanie implacabili” and “Come scoglio.” Stegmann may also have been responsible for the brief chordal introductions added in the orchestra at the beginnings of the duets no. 20, “Prenderò quel brunettino,” and no. 23, “Il coro vi dono,” in order to give the singers the pitch in the absence of recitatives (see the facsimiles of these passages in the Frankfurt score in Zenck 2007, 142 and 145).
About Stegmann’s added role of Kasper we can say little, as the spoken dialogue for Liebe und Versuchung is not known to survive except for fragments. But Zenck shows persuasively that Stegmann’s Kasper took over the sung role of the notary in the second-act finale; it is clear from the surviving role book for Laurette/Despina that she did not sing the part: except for some cue notes, Laurette’s role book has rests when the notary is singing. Zenck also makes a good case that Stegmann similarly took over the role of the doctor in the first-act finale (see Zenck 2007, 137–38). Because the cue notes for the notary in Laurette’s role book are written in soprano clef, Zenck suggests that Stegmann may have sung these parts falsetto for comic effect.
At the end of October 1792, the French occupied Mainz. The Nationaltheater gave a few operas under Stegmann’s direction after the occupation began, but within two weeks, Koch announced the closing of the theater, and the company began to disperse (Peth 1879, 99ff). Stegmann and his wife rejoined the company of the Hamburg theater, where Stegmann sang Papageno in the Hamburg premiere of Die Zauberflöte on 15 Nov 1793 (see our entry for that date). Upon Schröder’s first retirement from the Hamburg theater in 1798 (he returned for a short time in 1811), Stegmann joined the theater’s directorate. In 1811, Stegmann himself retired from the stage, moved to Bonn, devoting the rest of his life to composing and arranging. Works from his later career include arrangements for piano solo of symphonies by Joseph Haydn, and for piano four-hands of Mozart’s String Quintet in G minor, K. 516, arrangements that have occasionally been revived in recent years.
Stegmann is known to have been proficient on both violin and keyboard, but this aspect of his career has been little studied. Josef Sittard, in his 1890 history of musical life in Hamburg gives the program for a concert on 27 Apr 1782 at which Stegmann played an unspecified keyboard concerto (possibly his own), and on 5 Oct of that same year Stegmann gave a benefit concert at which he played a concerto by Schobert and a sonata by Haydn in the first half, and a concerto by Franz Xaver Dušek in the second half (Sittard 1890, 90 and 128 for Stegmann, and 182 for Dušek’s visit to Hamburg that year). On 15 Aug 1784, when Stegmann was with Großmann, the company gave a benefit concert for singer and actress Madame Zimdar (born Catharina Justina Benda, daughter of composer Georg Anton Benda), who had lost a trunk in transit. At that concert, Stegmann performed, on fortepiano, a concerto by (apparently) Johann Christian Bach, adding a rondeau of his own composition:
Den 15. [Aug] war im Schauspielhause grosses Vokal=
und Instrumentalkonzert zum Besten der Madam Zim=
dar, um ihr den Verlust eines Koffers mit Sachen
von Werth zu ersetzen; in welchem besonders Mad.
Zimdar und Dem. Bösenberg mit italienischen Arien,
und Hr. Stegmann mit einem Konzert auf dem For=
tepiano von Chr. Bach, dem er ein Rondeau seiner
eignen Arbeit hinzufügte, sich mit dem größten Beifal=
le der Kenner hören ließen, die ein so gutes Konzert,
als etwas in Göttingen höchst seltnes, schätzen.
[Litteratur- und Theater-Zeitung 1784, no. 36:150;
cited in Rüppel 2010, 298]
On 15 Aug, a grand vocal and instrumental concert was
given in the theater for the benefit of Madame Zimdar,
to compensate her for the loss of a trunk containing
valuable items; at which, in particular, were heard Madame
Zimdar and Mademoiselle Bösenberg, with Italian arias,
and Herr Stegmann, with a concerto on the fortepiano
by Chr[istian] Bach, to which he had added a rondeau
of his own composition, all to the greatest applause
from connoisseurs, who treasure such a good concert,
which is something quite rare in Göttingen.
(The reference is to Eleonore Bösenberg, another singer in Großmann’s company.)
On 2 May, the day after the premiere of Liebe und Versuchung, Schröder attended the premiere of Kotzebue’s Der Papagoy. He left Frankfurt around midnight that night, arriving in Mannheim on 3 May; the remainder of his tour is discussed in our entry for 10 May 1791.
Liebe und Versuchung was not a success in Frankfurt, and in general, of Mozart’s three Da Ponte operas, Così fan tutte was the slowest to establish itself in the repertory, either in Italian or German. Yet even the responses to the first performance in Frankfurt are ambivalent, not uniformly negative. The anonymous reviewer for the Annalen des Theaters speaks of Mozart’s “kraftvolle erhabene Musik” (“powerful sublime music”) even while dismissing the book as “elend” (“miserable”). The brutal review in the Annalen of the first Mannheim performance of the opera in 1793 similarly speaks of Mozart’s “vortreffliche Musik” (“splendid music”). When Schröder wrote in his diary “Selbst von Mozart’s Musik gefällt mir nur der zweite Aufzug” (“Even Mozart’s music pleased me only in the second act”), the key word is “selbst” (“even”): based on his previous experience with Mozart’s music, he had expected to like all of it. It seems probable that it was the early recognition of Mozart’s powerful, splendid, and sublime music that led German-language theater companies repeatedly to try mounting the opera with new versions of the libretto, in order to find one that would work for German-speaking audiences of the time.
It is often claimed that Così had a difficult time gaining a foothold in the repertory because audiences of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries found it immoral. But the reality appears to be more nuanced. Yes, the reviewer of the Mannheim premiere found the opera salacious, but he or she also complained that the plot didn’t make sense. Schröder’s complaint about the libretto is of particular interest: he is responding partly as a practical man of the theater, with at least one eye on the bottom line, and does not mention anything about immorality per se, but writes rather that the libretto demeans all women—and thus women will not come to the theater to see it.
In its brief four-year history, from 5 Nov 1788 to the end of Oct 1792, the company of the Nationaltheater in Mainz—which performed in both Mainz and Frankfurt—gave five different Mozart operas: Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Das verstellte Gärtnermädchen (La finta giardiniera), Don Juan, Figaro, and Liebe und Versuchung, performing all of these except (perhaps) the last at least once in both cities. On the current state of research, by the end of Aug 1791, the company had given Entführung ten times, Don Juan five times, Das verstellte Gärntermädchen and Figaro three times each, and Liebe und Versuchung just once. (Regarding an alleged performance of Liebe und Versuchung in Mainz on 11 Jun 1791, see the Notes below). The Mainzer Nationaltheater gave the Frankfurt and Mainz premieres of Don Juan, and the Mainz premieres of Das verstellte Gärtnermädchen and Figaro; the core of the same company gave the Frankfurt premiere of Figaro on 11 Oct 1788, just three weeks before the official debut of the Nationaltheater in Mainz. And of course the company gave the Frankfurt premiere of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, under the title Liebe und Versuchung.
Singers played an important role in the early reception of Mozart’s operas, but this role has been largely neglected by scholars. Regardless of the quality of Mozart’s music, if the singing and acting in an opera was mediocre or bad, the audience was likely to be dissatisfied, and if they did not know the opera well (as, in the early days of a work’s performance history, they mostly did not), they might not have been able to distinguish readily between the quality of the music and the quality of the particular performance. The ensemble of the Nationaltheater in Mainz included an exceptionally fine group of singers and actors. Margarethe Luise Schick and Friedrich Eunike both went on to considerable fame with the Nationaltheater in Berlin, where both sang many Mozart roles. Juliane Walter and Johann Baptist Hübsch, although their careers were not as stellar, both evidently had very fine voices. Annette Christine Mende and Joachim Friedrich Mende, while not primarily singers, had much success as actors. Carl David Stegmann, while perhaps not possessing a first-class singing voice, was a good comic actor, whose fine musicianship helped him use what voice he had to excellent effect. There is every reason to think that Liebe und Versuchung was well performed in Frankfurt, and the quality of the performance was probably reflected in the praise for Mozart’s music in Annalen des Theaters and in the “strong applause” that Schröder reports. Stegmann’s contribution as director should also not be overlooked: he arranged, rehearsed, and directed all of the Mozart operas given by the Mainz ensemble, in both Mainz and Frankfurt. By all accounts he was a good director with unusually high standards. And he may have played a similar role in the Frankfurt theater before the Mainzer Nationaltheater was established, so he may have prepared Figaro for its premiere there as well.
For his part, Schröder’s own reactions to Mozart’s music are misleadingly represented in Dokumente, which includes only his two negative responses to Così fan tutte, one of which has to do only with the libretto and the other largely so. As we show in our entries on Mozart’s operas in Hamburg under Schröder’s direction (see 18 Jun 1787, 27 Oct 1789, 4 Apr 1791, and 15 Nov 1793, and the summary in the entry for 19 Feb 1792 of his role in the reception of Mozart’s music in Hamburg), Schröder was an important early advocate of Mozart’s operas. Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Don Juan were significant hits in Hamburg from the first, and Schröder kept Figaro in the Hamburg repertory even when initial public reception was less enthusiastic, probably because he was convinced of its high quality. Schröder eventually brought even Così to the stage in Hamburg: the opera premiered there on 3 Feb 1796, in a version based on Bretzner’s 1794 translation, Weibertreue (Zenck 2005)—adapted by Schröder.