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Mozart and Salieri

Mozart and Salieri

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Mozart and Salieri is a one-act opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 in two scenes by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, and a member of the group of composers known as The Five.The Five, also known as The Mighty Handful or The Mighty Coterie, refers to a circle of composers who met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the years 1856–1870: Mily Balakirev , César...

, written in 1897 to a Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n libretto
Libretto
A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...

 taken almost verbatim from Alexander Pushkin's 1830 verse drama of the same name.

The story follows the apocryphal legend that Antonio Salieri
Antonio Salieri
Antonio Salieri was a Venetian classical composer, conductor and teacher born in Legnago, south of Verona, in the Republic of Venice, but who spent his adult life and career as a faithful subject of the Habsburg monarchy....

 poisoned Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

 out of jealousy over the latter's music. Rimsky-Korsakov incorporated quotations from Mozart's Requiem
Requiem (Mozart)
The Requiem Mass in D minor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was composed in Vienna in 1791 and left unfinished at the composer's death. A completion by Franz Xaver Süssmayr was delivered to Count Franz von Walsegg, who had anonymously commissioned the piece for a requiem Mass to commemorate the...

and Don Giovanni
Don Giovanni
Don Giovanni is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and with an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It was premiered by the Prague Italian opera at the Teatro di Praga on October 29, 1787...

into the score. Richard Taruskin has placed this opera in the historical context of the development of the realistic tradition in Russian opera
Russian opera
Russian opera is the art of opera in Russia. Operas by composers of Russian origin, written or staged outside of Russia, also belong to this category, as well as the operas of foreign composers written or intended for the Russian scene. These are not only Russian-language operas...

.

Performance history


The first performance took place at the Solodovnikov Theater in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, presented by the Moscow Private Russian Opera
Private Opera
The Private Opera , also known as:*The Russian Private Opera ;*Moscow Private Russian Opera, ;*Mamontov's Private Russian Opera in Moscow ;*Korotkov's Theatre ;*Vinter's Theatre ;*Private Opera Society ; and...

, Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 on 7 December 1898 O.S.
Old Style and New Style dates
Old Style and New Style are used in English language historical studies either to indicate that the start of the Julian year has been adjusted to start on 1 January even though documents written at the time use a different start of year ; or to indicate that a date conforms to the Julian...

 25 November. The conductor was Iosif Truffi and scenic designer was Mikhail Vrubel
Mikhail Vrubel
Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vrubel is usually regarded amongst the Russian painters of the Symbolist movement. In reality, he deliberately stood aloof from contemporary art trends, so that the origin of his unusual manner should be sought in Late Byzantine and Early Renaissance painting.-Early...

.

Fyodor Shalyapin
Feodor Chaliapin
Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin was a Russian opera singer. The possessor of a large and expressive bass voice, he enjoyed an important international career at major opera houses and is often credited with establishing the tradition of naturalistic acting in his chosen art form.During the first phase...

, who originated the role of Saleri, claimed to have often sung the piece as a monodrama
Monodrama
A monodrama is a theatrical or operatic piece played by a single actor or singer, usually portraying one character.- Monodrama in opera :...

, as the role of Mozart goes no higher than g and was within his range.

In Britain the first UK performance was presented on 11 January 1927, while the first U.S. one took place in Forest Park, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, in 1933.

Roles

Role Voice type Premiere cast
Moscow, 7 December 1898
(Conductor: Iosif Truffi)
Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

tenor
Tenor
The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The typical tenor voice lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, to the A above middle C in choral music, and up to high C in solo work. The low extreme for tenors is roughly B2...

Vasily Shkafer
Salieri
Antonio Salieri
Antonio Salieri was a Venetian classical composer, conductor and teacher born in Legnago, south of Verona, in the Republic of Venice, but who spent his adult life and career as a faithful subject of the Habsburg monarchy....

baritone
Baritone
Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice. Originally from the Greek , meaning deep sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C Baritone (or...

Fyodor Shalyapin
Feodor Chaliapin
Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin was a Russian opera singer. The possessor of a large and expressive bass voice, he enjoyed an important international career at major opera houses and is often credited with establishing the tradition of naturalistic acting in his chosen art form.During the first phase...

A blind fiddler silent role
Offstage chorus: sings a few bars of Mozart's Requiem Mass
Requiem (Mozart)
The Requiem Mass in D minor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was composed in Vienna in 1791 and left unfinished at the composer's death. A completion by Franz Xaver Süssmayr was delivered to Count Franz von Walsegg, who had anonymously commissioned the piece for a requiem Mass to commemorate the...

 in the second scene.

Synopsis



Time: End of the 18th century

Place: Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...


Scene 1


Salieri enjoys high social position as a composer, and has dedicated himself to the service of his art. Secretly, however, he is jealous of Mozart's works because he recognizes their superior quality, especially given what he sees as the "idle" character of Mozart. Salieri invites Mozart to dinner and plans to poison him.

Scene 2


Mozart and Salieri are dining at an inn. Mozart is troubled by his work on his Requiem, which a stranger in black commissioned from him. Mozart notes that Pierre Beaumarchais
Pierre Beaumarchais
Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais was a French playwright, watchmaker, inventor, musician, diplomat, fugitive, spy, publisher, arms dealer, satirist, financier, and revolutionary ....

 and Salieri were once friends, but then asks if it is true that Beaumarchais once poisoned someone. Salieri then surreptitiously pours poison into Mozart's drink. Mozart begins to play at the keyboard, as Salieri begins to cry. Mozart sees this, but Salieri urges Mozart to continue. Mozart begins to feel ill, and leaves. Salieri ends the opera singing farewell to Mozart and comparing himself to Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

.

Recordings


Audio Recordings (Mainly studio recordings)
Source: www.operadis-opera-discography.org.uk
Motsart i Salyeri (Russian)
  • 1947, Samuil Samosud
    Samuil Samosud
    Samuil Abramovich Samosud |Georgia]], — Moscow, 6 November 1964) was a Russian conductor. He started his musical career on the cello, before conducting in the Mariinsky Theater, Petrograd in 1917. From 1918 to 1936 he conducted at the Maly Operny, Leningrad. In 1936 he became musical...

     (conductor), Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre, Sergey Lemeshev (Mozart), Alexander Pirogov
    Alexander Pirogov
    Alexander Stepanovich Pirogov was a Russian bass opera singer.Pirogov was born in the village of Novosyolki, one of five sons of a musical father. Four of the five brothers became singers, most notably Grigory, also a bass....

     (Salieri)
  • 1951, Samuil Samosud (conductor), USSR Radio Orchestra and Chorus, Ivan Kozlovsky (Mozart), Mark Reizen
    Mark Reizen
    Mark Osipovich Reizen, also Reisen or Reyzen — died November 25, 1992 Moscow, Russia) was a leading Soviet opera singer with a beautiful and expansive bass voice.-Life and career:...

     (Salieri)
  • 1974, Stoyan Angelov (conductor), Bulgarian Radio-Television Symphony Orchestra, Svetoslav Obretenov Chorus, Avram Andreev (Mozart), Pavel Gerdzhikov (Salieri), Teodor Moussev (piano), Raina Manolova (violin)
  • 1986, Mark Ermler
    Mark Ermler
    Mark Fridrikhovich Ermler was a Russian conductor.-Biography:Mark Ermler was born in Leningrad in 1932. His parents were Vera Bakun, a film set designer, and Friedrich Ermler, a film director. He began to study piano at age 5....

     (conductor), Bolshoy Theatre Orchestra and Chorus, Aleksandr Fedin (Mozart), Yevgeny Nesterenko (Salieri), Vera Chasovennaya (piano), Sergey Girshenko (violin)
  • 1994, Yuli Turovsky (conductor), I Musici de Montréal, I Musici de Montréal Choir, Vladimir Bogachev (Mozart), Nikita Storojev
    Nikita Storojev
    Nikita Storojev is a Russian bass singer,-Source:*http://www.nikitastorojev.com...

     (Salieri)
in German Mozart und Salieri 1982, Marek Janowski
Marek Janowski
Marek Janowski is a Polish-born conductor.Janowski grew up in Wuppertal, Germany, near Cologne, after his mother traveled there at the start of World War II to be with her parents...

 (conductor), Dresden Staatskapelle, Leipzig Radio Symphony Chorus, Peter Schreier
Peter Schreier
Peter Schreier is a German tenor and conductor.-Early life:Schreier was born in Meissen, Saxony, and spent his first years in the small village of Gauernitz, near Meissen, where his father was a teacher, cantor and organist...

 (Mozart), Theo Adam
Theo Adam
Theo Adam is a distinguished German classical bass-baritone who had an active international career in operas, concerts, and recitals from the 1940s through the 1990s. He particularly excelled in portraying roles from the operas of Richard Wagner...

 (Salieri), Peter Rosel (piano)

Video

  • VHS 1981, Live performance, Alexei Maslennikov (Mozart), Artur Eizen (Salieri), L. Novikov (Violinist), Orchestra and Chorus of the Bolshoi Theatre, Ruben Vartanian

External links