The first performances of Le nozze di Figaro in Prague took place in late autumn 1786. The precise date of the Prague premiere is unknown, but the first report on the opera in the Prager Oberpostamtzeitung on 12 Dec 1786 states that it had already been given a number of times (“einigemal”) by that point:
Kein Stück (so gehet hier die allgemeine Sage) hat je so viel Aufsehen gemacht als die italienische Oper: Die Hochzeit des Figaro, welche von der hiesigen Bondinischen Gesellschaft der Opernvirtuosen schon einigemal mit dem vollsten Beyfalle gegeben wurde. [Dokumente, 246]
No piece (so goes the general wisdom here) has ever made so much of a stir as the Italian opera Le nozze di Figaro, which has already been given a number of times with the greatest acclaim by the resident Bondini company of opera virtuosi.
That same report cites a rumor that Mozart himself might come to Prague to see the production:
Kenner, die diese Oper in Wien gesehen haben, wollen behaupten, daß sie hier weit besser ausfalle; und sehr wahrscheinlich, weil die blasenden Instrumenten, worinn die Böhmen bekanntlich entschiedene Meister sind, in dem ganzen Stück viel zu thun haben; besonders gefallen die Duetten der Trompete und des Waldhorn. Unserem Großen Mozart muß dieses selbst zu Ohren gekommen seyn, weil seit dem das Gerücht gehet, er würde selbst hieher kommen das Stück zu sehen [...] [Dokumente, 246]
Connoisseurs who have seen this opera in Vienna claim that it comes off far better here; and very likely so, because the wind instruments, on which the Bohemians are famously decided masters, have much to do throughout the piece; the duets of trumpet and horn are especially pleasing. Our Great Mozart must himself have heard this, because since then the rumor has circulated that he will come here himself to see the piece [...]
The new document transcribed here, from the Salzburg newspaper Oberdeutsche Staatszeitung, states that Mozart had been sent a poem and two letters, one signed by the entire Prague orchestra, inviting him to come to Prague to see the production. The content of the report closely mirrors Leopold Mozart’s letter to his daughter of 12 Jan 1787, six days earlier:
Dein Bruder wird itzt mit seiner Frau bereits in Prag seyn, denn er schrieb mir daß er verflossenen Montag [8 Jan] dahin abreisen werde. seine opera Le Nozze di Figaro sind mit so grossen Beyfahl alda aufgeführt worden, daß das Orchester, und eine Gesellschaft grosser kenner und Liebhaber im [sic; recte ihm] Einladungs Briefe zu geschrieben, und eine Poesie die über ihn gemacht worden zugeschickt haben. Ich habs von deinem Bruder und Gr: Starmberg hat es von Prag bekommen. mit nächstem Bothentag werde es euch schicken. Md:me Duscheck gehet nach Berlin, und die Rede, daß dein Bruder nach Engelland reisen wird, bestättigt sich noch immer von Wienn, von Prag und von München aus. [Briefe iv:7, lines 17–26]
Your brother will now be in Prague with his wife, for he wrote me that he would depart for there this past Monday [8 Jan]. His opera Le nozze di Figaro has been performed with such acclaim there, that the orchestra and a group of great connoisseurs and amateurs wrote him a letter of invitation, and sent a poem that had been written about him. I have it from your brother, and Count Starhemberg has received it from Prague. I will send it to you on the next post day. Mme. Duschek is going to Berlin, and the story that your brother will travel to England is repeatedly confirmed from Vienna, from Prague, and from Munich.
The similarity between Leopold’s letter and the report in the Oberdeutsche Staatszeitung suggests that the paper might have received the information from him directly. However, his statement that Count Starhemberg (canon of the Salzburg cathedral, Franz Joseph Count Starhemberg) “received it from Prague” (“hat es von Prag bekommen”) leaves open the possibility that the count might have been the conduit, or perhaps Lorenz Hübner, the editor of the Oberdeutsche Staatszeitung, had it from both of them.
Franz Xaver Niemetschek, in his biography of Mozart, claims that the invitation came from Count Johann Joseph Anton Thun:
Die Bewunderung für den Verfasser dieser Musik gieng so weit, daß einer unserer edelsten Kavaliere und Kenner der Musik, Graf Johann Joseph Thun, der selbst eine vortreffiche Kapelle unterhielt, ihn nach Prag zu kommen einlud, und ihm Wohnung, Kost und alle Bequemlichkeiten in seinem Hause anboth. (Niemetschek 1808, 39)
The admiration for the author of this music went so far that one of our most noble cavaliers and connoisseurs of music, Count Johann Joseph Thun, who himself maintained a splendid kapelle, invited him to come to Prague, and offered him lodging, board, and every convenience in his house.
Mozart and Constanze left Vienna for Prague on 8 Jan 1787; their arrival there on 11 Jan was reported in the Prager Oberpostamtszeitung (13 Jan 1787, Dokumente, 250). Mozart attended a performance of Figaro on 17 Jan (according to his letter of 15 Jan to Gottfried von Jacquin, Briefe, iv:12). On 19 Jan he gave a concert in the theater, likewise reported in the Prager Oberpostamtszeitung (Dokumente, 251), and on 22 Jan he directed a performance of Figaro. The Mozarts departed Prague on 8 Feb, returning to Vienna around the 12th.
The poem that accompanied the invitation to Prague was written by doctor and amateur actor Anton Daniel Breicha: “An Mozart bey Gelegenheit der Vorstellung der Oper le nozze di Figaro” (Dokumente, 248–49), first published as an individual sheet (a copy of which had been sent to Mozart and evidently also to Starhemberg), and subsequently printed in the anthology Blumen, Blümchen und Blätter edited by Johann Dionys John (John 1787, 15–17).
Lorenz Hübner and the Mozarts
The Oberdeutsche Staatszeitung was edited by Lorenz Hübner (?1751–1807), an influential proponent of Enlightenment ideas in Catholic Germany and Austria. Born in Donauwörth in Bavaria, Hübner studied law and theology at Ingolstadt and was ordained in 1774 upon the completion of his doctorate in theology. Following a period teaching in the secondary school (Gymnasium) in Burghausen, he went to Munich in 1779 where he assumed the editorship of the daily Münchner Zeitung, which under his leadership became one of the leading newspapers in Germany (Wurzbach 1863, 397). The change in style and tone are evident even in the paper’s new masthead for the issue of 9 May 1780, accompanied by a change of title from the plain vanilla Münchner Zeitung to the explicitly intellectual and cosmopolitan Münchner Staats=, gelehrte, und vermischte Nachrichten—or, as a cover page from one of the annual volumes more expansively describes it: Münchner Stats=, gelehrte, und vermischte Nachrichten, aus Journalen, Zeitungen, und Correspondenzen, übersezt, und gesammelt, thus placing the newspaper on a world stage (or at least a European one). Beginning also with the issue of 9 May 1780, the paper expanded from four pages to eight, although it scaled back to four in 1781; gradually Hübner began to experiment with issues of differing lengths depending on need, with occasional if irregular additions of an “Anhang” or “Beilage.” In Jan 1783, Hübner added a monthly literary supplement to his roster, the Münchner gelehrte Zeitung, oder Anzeige der neuesten Bücher aus Baiern, und den angrenzenden Gegenden (the title of the first issue,which was subsequently simplified to Münchner gelehrte Zeitung; the daily paper reverted to the title Münchner Zeitung with the first issue of 1783, while retaining its longer title for the yearly volumes).
By 1783 Hübner’s enlightened ideas and his free expression of them ran afoul of Elector Karl Theodor. Hübner was invited to come to Salzburg by Prince Bishop Hieronymous Colloredo, who was decidedly more friendly to the Enlightenment. The Münchner gelehrte Zeitung disappeared after the issue of Dec 1783, and Hübner seems to have taken up editorship of the Salzburger Zeitung immediately at the beginning of 1784. In 1785 the paper was renamed the Oberdeutsche Staatszeitung, and it is under that title that the report transcribed here was published in 1787. Joseph Wißmayr, in a hagiography of Hübner written some years after his death, states that when Karl Theodor banned Hübner’s Oberdeutsche Staatszeitung in Munich, the result was a daily procession of readers to the nearby village of Vöhring (Föhring), where the ban did not hold (Wißmayr 1855, 14–15; the anecdote is repeated in Wurzbach 1863).
In Jan 1784 Hübner also established a four-page weekly, the Salzburger Intelligenzblatt—or as it later styled itself on the cover page of the volume for 1786, the Salzburger Intelligenzblatt, oder Wochentliche Nachrichten zum allgemeinen Nutzen und zur Erbauung. The Intelligenzblatt expanded to eight pages in 1785; it contained local and regional ordinances, notices, and advertisements, “Gelehrte Nachrichten und Bücheranzeigen,” notices of births, weddings, and deaths, and other local news, including (quite irregularly) notices of local theatrical performances. In 1788 Hübner began yet another monthly, the Oberdeutsche, allgemeine Litteraturzeitung. All three of these periodicals continued publication until 1799; following the death of Karl Theodor that year, Hübner was called back to Munich by his successor Maximilian IV.
All three of Hübner’s Salzburg periodicals contain Mozart documents, seven of which were already known to Mozart scholars. On 23 Mar 1786, the Oberdeutsche Staatszeitung published one riddle and seven proverbs from the Bruchstücke aus Zoroastens Fragmenten, the so-called “Zoroastrian Riddles,” which Mozart had distributed as a broadsheet at a masked ball in Vienna on 19 Feb 1786 (the extract published in the Oberdeutsche Staatszeitung is transcribed in Dokumente, 234–35, and Briefe, iii:506–7). Mozart sent a copy of the Bruchstücke to his father, as Leopold explains in a letter to his daughter that same day (Briefe, iii:521); it is usually assumed that Leopold himself provided the broadsheet or an extract of it to Hübner. No copy of the original broadsheet is known to survive, but a manuscript draft of the other seven riddles (although not the missing anecdotes) was rediscovered in 1970; the five that are legible (Nissen had rendered two illegible) are printed in Briefe (vi:713–15) and given in translation in NMD (43–44; see also the discussion and interpretation of the riddles in Solomon 1995, 337–52).
On 29 Dec 1785, the Oberdeutsche Staatszeitung reprinted a report from the Wiener Zeitung (24 Dec 1785, 2967) on Mozart’s performance of one of his piano concertos at the concert of the Viennese Tonkünstler-Societät on 23 Dec (Documente, 227–28); on 12 Dec 1791 it reprinted the notice of Mozart’s death from the Wiener Zeitung on 7 Dec (the reprint is noted in Neue Folge, 77); and on 28 Dec 1791, it printed a version of a report that had appeared in the Prager Oberpostamtszeitung on 17 Dec regarding a memorial service for Mozart in Prague on 14 Dec (the Prague report is transcribed in Addenda, 75; the version from the Oberdeutsche Staatszeitung is in Neue Folge, 76–77). We are able to add two more Mozart references from the Oberdeutsche Staatszeitung: the report on Figaro in Prague transcribed here; and a report of a concert in Prague on 30 Mar 1787 that included a Mozart piano concerto (see the entry for 30 Mar 1787).
Two documents relating to Mozart in Hübner’s Salzburger Intelligenzblatt were already known to Mozart scholars. On 15 Sep 1787, the paper announced the auction of Leopold Mozart’s estate (Dokumente, 261–62); and on 7 Jan 1792 it carried a story on the commissioning of Mozart’s Requiem (Neue Folge, 81). As we have shown, the story on the Requiem had already been printed in Der baierische Landbot on 27 Dec 1791, which may well have been the source for the reprint in the Intelligenzblatt. We are able to add another document from the Intelligenzblatt, a notice in the issue of 27 Jun 1787 of Leopold Mozart’s death on 28 May.
Two references to Mozart appear in Hübner’s monthly, the Oberdeutsche, allgemeine Litteraturzeitung. On 16 Feb 1791 the Litteraturzeitung published a review of the Taschenbuch für Freunde und Freundinnen der Musik by Jacob Friedrich Marzius (or Martius). The review in the Litteraturzeitung lists its contents, which include arrangements of two arias from Die Entführung aus dem Serail, a “Contretanz” by “Muck” based on Osmin’s “O wie will ich triumphiren!,” and a march by Marzius based on the opera’s overture. Neue Folge transcribes the relevant passages from the review in its commentary regarding a shorter notice on the Taschenbuch in Cramer’s Magazin der Musik of 17 Dec 1786. However, an entire line was accidentally omitted from the transcription in Neue Folge (the omitted line is given here in blue):
niedlich Romanze mit Abkürzung des Ritornells:
Im Mohrenland gefangen ward &c., und Wer
ein Liebchen hat gefunden &c. aus Brezners
Entführung aus dem Serail vom Mozart; (bey
letzteren eine niedliche Vignette, Osmin auf dem
Baume. Belmonte steckt aber wahrscheinlich hin=
ter dem Hause!) [...]
It is claimed in Neue Folge that no copy of the Taschenbuch is known to survive, but the Bodleian Library at Oxford holds a copy from the estate of Albi Rosenthal. An inscription on the flyleaf of this copy reads: “Dieses Taschenbuch zu schätzbaren Andenken erhalten von Herrn Professor Schubart, Herzogl. Würtembergischen Hofdichter, auch Musick u. Theater Direktor zu Studtgartt; beÿ meiner Anwesenheit daselbst den 3t[en]. October 1790. Friedericke Charlotte Zehler” (“This Taschenbuch received as a treasured memento from Herr Professor Schubart, poet to the ducal court of Württemberg, also director of music and theater in Stuttgart; on the occasion of my presence there on 3 October 1790”; the reference is to Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart). According to the contents list in the Bodleian’s catalog entry for the Taschenbuch, the Mozart arias in vol. 1 are not printed in succession; they are, respectively, the second and ninth items in the volume. The “Angloise” [sic] by “Muk” (perhaps Friedrich Johann Albrecht Muck) on “O wie will ich triumphiren!” is the sixth item in the first volume.
Later that same year, in its issue of 2 Nov, the Oberdeutsche, allgemeine Litterarturzeitung published a long review of Ignaz Walter’s keyboard score of Dittersdorf’s Die Liebe im Narrenhaus, recently published by Schott. The review (which is signed “F—K.” and is therefore probably not by Hübner) draws a comparison between Walter’s score of Die Liebe im Narrenhaus and Abbé Stark’s keyboard score of Entführung, also published by Schott (see Neue Folge, 72–73; the review appears in columns 823–30 of the Litteraturzeitung; the passage on the keyboard score of Entführung appears near the end, in cols. 829–30).
Leopold Mozart refers to Hübner in several letters to his daughter in 1785 and 1786, and from these it is clear that Leopold and Hübner knew one another. However, the relationship appears not to have been a close one: of the six unequivocal references to Hübner in the letters, Leopold refers to him as “H[err] Zeitungsschreiber” (3 Nov 1785), “H: Hübner” (18 Nov 1785), “der Zeitungsschreiber” (2-3 Dec 1785), “Zeitungsschreiber Hübner” (21 Jul and 11 Aug 1786), and “H: Hübner” (1 Sep 1786). Leopold’s repeated reference to Hübner as “Zeitungsschreiber” may in part reflect his habitual sardonic tone, but they also suggest that Leopold felt it necessary to remind Nannerl who Hübner was, suggesting in turn that his relationship with the Mozarts was not close.
As with many intellectuals of the Enlightenment, Hübner wrote prolifically on a wide variety of topics across a variety of genres. He led an amateur theater group in Salzburg (as mentioned by Leopold Mozart in letters to his daughter); two of Hübner’s own plays were performed in Salzburg in 1787 and again in 1789: Camma, die Heldin Bojoariens (Munich 1784) and Hainz von Stain der Wilde (Munich 1782; both carry the subtitle Ein vaterländisches Schauspiel). In 1782 Hübner provided a German translation of Antonio Salieri’s setting of Metastasio’s Semiramide, performed in Munich that year; Hübner is identified as the translator on page 8 of the bilingual libretto. Of Hübner’s other writings, perhaps the best known today are his “topographical and statistical” books on Salzburg and the surrounding region: Beschreibung der hochfürstlich=erzbschöflichen Haupt= und Residenzstadt Salzburg und ihrer Gegenden, verbunden mit ihrer ältesten Geschichte (vol. 1, Topographie, 1792; vol. 2, Statistik, 1793); and its sequel, Beschreibung des Erzstiftes und Reichsfürstenthums Salzburg in Hinsicht auf Topographie und Statistik (1796, vol. 1 and vol. 2).