|Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart|
Der Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario), K. 486, is a comic Singspiel written to "the [Emperor's] imperial command" for 80 guests at a private luncheon by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Gottlieb Stephanie, an Austrian Schauspieldirektor. It is regarded as "a parody on the vanity of singers", who argue over status and pay.
Mozart, who descries the piece as "comedy with music" wrote it as his entry in a musical competition which was given a private performance hosted on 7 February 1786 by Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. This competition pitted a German singspiel, presented at one end of the room, against a competing Italian opera, the Italian entry being Antonio Salieri's opera buffa, Prima la musica, poi le parole (First the Music, then the Words), which was then given at the other end. The premiere was followed by the first of three public performances given four days later at the Kärntnertor Theater, Vienna, on 11 February.
The work was written during a very creative period Mozart's life, at the same time as his Le nozze di Figaro, which premiered later the same year, along with three piano concertos and "another dozen major works".
In addition to the overture, there are only four vocal numbers in the score, and the musical content (about 30 minutes) is surrounded by much spoken dialogue, topical in its day. One highlight, which Erik Smith describes as very funny, is where "each lady sings about the nobility of her art while trying to defeat her rival with ever higher notes". Although it has been described as a "silly farce", Mozart appears to have taken the opportunity to write serious arias and thus the "audition" of Madame Herz includes her aria "Da schlägt die Abschiedsstunde" (There tolls the hour of departure), while Mme Silberklang sings the elegrant rondo, "Bester Jüngling" (Dearest Youth).
The opera was first presented in the United Kingdom on 30 May 1857 at the St James's Theatre in London and given its US premiere at the Stadt Theatre in New York on 9 November 1870. In modern times, the text is usually completely rewritten for contemporary relevance, which will be case for the 2014 production to be given by the Santa Fe Opera where it will have "English dialogue by the British dramatist Ranjit Bolt and additional Mozart concert arias folded into the score" with the action taking place in Paris in the 1920s.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast, 7 February 1786
(Conductor: – )
|Frank, an impresario||spoken role||Johann Gottlieb Stephanie Jr.|
|Eiler, a banker||spoken role||Johann Franz Hieronymus Brockmann|
|Buff, a buffo singer||bass||Joseph Weidmann|
|Monsieur Vogelsang, a singer||tenor||Valentin Adamberger|
|Madame Herz, a singer||soprano||Aloysia Weber|
|Mademoiselle Silberklang, a singer||soprano||Caterina Cavalieri|
|Herz, an actor||spoken role||Joseph Lange|
|Madame Pfeil, an actress||spoken role||Anna Maria Stephanie|
|Madame Krone, an actress||spoken role||Johanna Sacco|
|Madame Vogelsang, an actress||spoken role||Maria Anna Adamberger|
- Time: 1786
Frank, the impresario (along with the buffo singer, Buff, who assists him) audition two actresses to be part of his new theatrical company. While both are hired, they then argue over who will get the prime role and who will be paid the most. To illustrate their strengths, each sings a striking aria to back her claim (Hertz: "Da schlägt die Abschiedsstunde", Silberklang: "Bester Jüngling"). An agreement is reached when the tenor, Volgelsang, intervenes, in what Rushton describes as a hilarious trio, Ich bin die erste Sängerin ("I am the prima donna") compromise is agreed to with each receiving "large salaries and star billing". The work end with the quartet "Jeder Künstler strebt nach Ehre" (Every artist strives for glory).
Opera house and orchestra
|1968||Sylvia Geszty (de),
Hermann Christian Polster (de)
|Helmut Koch (de),
Kammerorchester Berlin (de)
|CD: Berlin Classics
Cat: 9136. Complete recording of 10 scenes including those spoken.
Also used in Brilliant Classics' Mozart – Complete Works.
Harry van der Kamp
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Cat: 8 43336 (+Prima la musica, poi la parole)
Kiri Te Kanawa,
Cat: 475 7049 (+ concert arias)
Cat: 80573 (+ Der wohltätige Derwisch (de) by Benedikt Schack)
Junge Philharmonie Salzburg
(Video recording of a performance by the Salzburger Marionetten)
|DVD: Deutsche Grammophon
Cat: 073 4244 (+ Bastien und Bastienne)
- Rushton, Julian (1998), "Der Schauspieldirektor" in Stanley Sadie, (Ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, Vol. Four, pp. 213—214. London: MacMillan Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-333-73432-7 ISBN 1-56159-228-5
- Smith, Erik (2001), "Der Schauspieldirektor", in Amanda Holden (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam. p. 608. ISBN 0-14-029312-4
- Der Schauspieldirektor: Score and critical report (German) in the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe
- Synopsis from Stanford University
- Der Schauspieldirektor: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Extensive list of recordings (1938–2006) and some audio, Mozarteum's digital Neue Mozart-Ausgabe
- "Da schlägt die Abschiedsstunde" on YouTube, Judith Howarth; Colin Davis conducting (1991)
- "Bester Jüngling" on YouTube, Yvonne Kenny; Colin Davis conducting (1991)
- "Ich bin die erste Sängerin" on YouTube, Kenny, Howarth, Barry Banks; Colin Davis conducting (1991)
- "Jeder Künstler strebt nach Ehre" (finale) on YouTube, Kenny, Howarth, Banks, Matthew Best; Colin Davis conducting (1991)