Four new documents on Mozart’s “Idomeneo” (and an addendum)
Posted: Sun, 29 Jul 2018
We have just added four new documents and one addendum to our site, and we are pleased to welcome Bruce Brown as a guest contributor.
Giuseppe Antonio Bridi was Mozart’s Idomeneo in the production of that opera at Prince Auersperg’s in Vienna in Mar 1786. In a small book published in 1827, Bridi relates that when Paisiello was in Vienna in 1784 for the first production of his opera Il re Teodoro in Venezia, he asked Mozart to borrow the score of Idomeneo for study. Bridi then points to a passage in Paisiello’s opera Pirro (1787) which seems to be modeled on (what Bridi took to be) a novel effect in Idomeneo, in scene 14 of Act II, when Elettra sings a few lines over the strains of a march approaching from the distance. A similar scene does indeed appear in Pirro, at the end of scene 9 in II, in which Pirro sings over a march approaching from the distance.
This commentary is a collaboration between Dexter Edge and Bruce Alan Brown.
Among manuscript notes for additions to his memoir, the composer and music theorist Anton Reicha relates an anecdote about a countess singing Elettra’s “Tutte nel cor vi sento” at a concert in Bonn, astonishing Reicha and his young friend Ludwig van Beethoven. The performer was certainly Countess Maria Anna Hortensia von Hatzfeld, who sang the role of Elettra in the production of Idomeneo at Prince Auersperg’s. Reicha does not date the performance, but on contextual grounds it seems likely to have taken place at some point in the years 1785 to 1789, thus during Mozart’s lifetime.
A newly discovered report published in the Regensburg newspaper Staats-Relation derer neuesten europäischen Nachrichten und Begebenheiten suggests that—contrary to the received wisdom in the Mozart literature—the production of Mozart’s Idomeneo in Vienna in Mar 1786 was performed several times, that it was staged, that it may have been open to the public, and that it was well received. Our article-length commentary, the centerpiece of this set, presents a comprehensive reconsideration of Auersperg’s production of Idomeneo, and includes many new documents on its context and performers.
Count Hugo von Hatzfeld was the brother-in-law of Countess Maria Anna Hortensia von Hatzfeld, and the younger brother of Count August Clemens von Hatzfeld for whom Mozart composed the solo violin part in the scena con rondò “Non temer, amato bene,” K. 490, in the production of Idomeneo at Prince Auersperg’s. In this letter, Count Hugo responds to a lost request from theater director Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Großmann, who apparently wished to acquire or examine a score of Idomeneo. Count Hugo implies that his brother August Clemens has a score of the opera, but has recently taken it with him to Vienna, and Count Hugo suggests that Großmann inquire with Simrock in Bonn, who is in touch with Count Nesselrode in Düsseldorf, who (Hugo knows) certainly has a score. Nesselrode’s score survives in the music collection of the Austrian National Library (it is source C in the NMA edition of the opera), and can now be dated to no later than Mar 1786.
For at least a half century it has universally been said that Mozart’s academy on 7 Apr 1786 took place in the Burgtheater. However, the only known documentary evidence for the concert, an item in the Wiener Zeitung, makes clear that the academy took place in the Kärntnertortheater.
Our Acknowledgments page has also been updated.
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