List of operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's operas comprise 22 musical dramas in a variety of genres. They range from the small-scale, derivative works of his youth to the full-fledged operas of his maturity. Three of the works were abandoned before completion and were not performed until many years after the composer's death. His mature works are all considered classics and have never been out of the repertory of the world's opera houses.
From a very young age Mozart had, according to opera analyst David Cairns, "an extraordinary capacity [...] for seizing on and assimilating whatever in a newly encountered style (was) most useful to him". In a letter to his father, dated 7 February 1778, Mozart wrote, "As you know, I can more or less adopt or imitate any kind and style of composition". He used this gift to break new ground, becoming simultaneously "assimilator, perfector and innovator". Thus, his early works follow the traditional forms of the Italian opera seria and opera buffa as well as the German Singspiel. In his maturity, according to music writer Nicholas Kenyon, he "enhanced all of these forms with the richness of his innovation", and, in Don Giovanni, he achieved a synthesis of the two Italian styles, including a seria character in Donna Anna, buffa characters in Leporello and Zerlina, and a mixed seria-buffa character in Donna Elvira. Unique among composers, Mozart ended all his mature operas, starting with Idomeneo, in the key of the overture.
Ideas and characterisations introduced in the early works were subsequently developed and refined. For example, Mozart's later operas feature a series of memorable, strongly drawn female characters, in particular the so-called "Viennese soubrettes" who, in opera writer Charles Osborne's phrase, "contrive to combine charm with managerial instinct". Music writer and analyst Gottfried Kraus has remarked that all these women were present, as prototypes, in the earlier operas; Bastienne (1768), and Sandrina (La finta giardiniera, 1774) are precedents for the later Constanze and Pamina, while Sandrina's foil Serpetta is the forerunner of Blonde, Susanna, Zerlina and Despina.
Mozart's texts came from a variety of sources, and the early operas were often adaptations of existing works. The first librettist chosen by Mozart himself appears to have been Giambattista Varesco, for Idomeneo in 1781. Five years later, he began his most enduring collaboration, with Lorenzo Da Ponte, his "true phoenix". The once widely held theory that Da Ponte was the librettist for the discarded Lo sposo deluso of 1783 has now been generally rejected. Mozart felt that, as the composer, he should have considerable input into the content of the libretto, so that it would best serve the music. Musicologist Charles Rosen writes, "it is possible that Da Ponte understood the dramatic necessities of Mozart's style without prompting; but before his association with da Ponte, Mozart had already bullied several librettists into giving him the dramatically shaped ensembles he loved."
Compiling the list
Basis for inclusion
The list includes all the theatrical works generally accepted as composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In this context "theatrical" means performed on a stage, by vocalists singing in character, in accordance with stage directions. Some sources have adopted more specific criteria, leading them to exclude the early "Sacred Singspiel" Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots, which they classify as an oratorio. However, as Osborne makes clear, the libretto contains stage directions which suggest that the work was acted, not merely sung, and it is formally described as a "geistliches Singspiel" (sacred play with music), not as an oratorio. The Singspiel Der Stein der Weisen was written in collaboration with four other composers, so it is only partially credited to Mozart.
In general, the list follows the sequence in which the operas were written. There is uncertainty about whether La finta semplice was written before or after Bastien und Bastienne, and in some listings the former is given priority. Thamos was written in two segments, the earlier in 1774, but is listed in accordance with its completion in 1779–80. Die Zauberflöte and La clemenza di Tito were written concurrently. Die Zauberflote was started earlier and put aside for the Tito commission, which was completed and performed first and is usually listed as the earlier work despite having a higher Köchel catalogue number.
List of works
Key: Incomplete opera Collaborative work
|Köchel No.||Year composed||Title||Language||Type of opera||Librettist||Voice parts||First performance details|
|1767||Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots, Part 1
The obligation of the first and foremost commandment
|German||Sacred Singspiel (collaboration)||Ignaz von Weiser||3 soprano, 2 tenor||Archbishop's Palace, Salzburg, 12 March 1767|
|1767||Apollo et Hyacinthus
Apollo and Hyacinth
|Latin||Musical setting of Latin text||Rufinus Widl, after Ovid's Metamorphoses||2 treble, 2 boy alto, 1 tenor, 2 bass, chorus||Great Hall, University of Salzburg, 13 May 1767|
|1768||Bastien und Bastienne
Bastien and Bastienne
|German||Singspiel in one act||F. W. Weiskern and J. H. Muller||1 soprano, 1 tenor, 1 bass||Architektenhaus, Wilhelmstraße 92, Berlin, 2 October 1890. (possibly Vienna, October 1768, in the garden of Dr Franz Mesmer).|
|1768||La finta semplice
The feigned simpleton
|Italian||Opera buffa in three acts||Marco Coltellini, after Carlo Goldoni||3 soprano, 2 tenor, 2 bass||Archbishop's Palace, Salzburg, 1 May 1769|
|1770||Mitridate, re di Ponto
Mithridates, King of Pontus
|Italian||Opera seria in three acts||V. A. Cigna-Santi, based on G. Parini's translation of Racine's Mithridate||4 soprano, 1 alto, 2 tenor||Teatro Regio Ducal, Milan, 26 December 1770|
|1771||Ascanio in Alba
Ascanius in Alba
|Italian||Festspiel in two acts||Giuseppe Parini||4 soprano, 1 tenor, chorus||Teatro Regio Ducal, Milan, 17 October 1771|
|1772||Il sogno di Scipione
|Italian||Azione teatrale, or Serenata drammatica, in one act||Metastasio, based on Cicero's Somnium Scipionis||3 soprano, 3 tenor, chorus||Archbishop's Palace, Salzburg, probably 1 May 1772|
|1772||Lucio Silla||Italian||Dramma per musica in three acts||Giovanni de Gamerra, revised by Metastasio||4 soprano, 2 tenor, chorus||Teatro Regio Ducal, Milan, 26 December 1772|
|1774||La finta giardiniera
The pretend garden-maid
|Italian||Dramma giocoso in three acts||Probably Giuseppe Petrosellini||4 soprano, 2 tenor, 1 bass, chorus||Salvatortheater, Munich, 13 January 1775|
|1775||Il re pastore
The Shepherd King
|Italian||Serenata in two acts||Metastasio, amended by Varesco, based on Tasso's Aminta||3 soprano, 2 tenor||Archbishop's Palace, Salzburg, 23 April 1775|
|1773 and 1779||Thamos, König in Ägypten
Thamos, King of Egypt
|German||Choruses and entr'actes for a heroic drama||Tobias Philipp von Gebler||Chorus and soloists: soprano, alto, tenor, bass||Kärntnertor Theatre, Vienna 4 April 1774 (two choruses); first complete performance Salzburg, 1779–80|
|1779||Zaide||German||Singspiel (incomplete)||Johann Andreas Schachtner||1 soprano, 2 tenor, 2 bass, ensemble (mini-chorus) of 4 tenors, 1 speaking role||Frankfurt (location unrecorded), 27 January 1866. Not performed during Mozart's lifetime.|
|1780–81||Idomeneo, re di Creta
Idomeneus, King of Crete
|Italian||Dramma per musica in three acts||Giambattista Varesco, after Antoine Danchet's Idoménée||3 soprano, 1 mezzo-soprano, 4 tenor, 1 baritone, 2 bass, chorus||Court Theatre (now Cuvilliés Theatre), Munich, 29 January 1781|
|1782||Die Entführung aus dem Serail
The Abduction from the Seraglio
|German||Singspiel in three acts||Gottlieb Stephanie, based on C. Bretzner's Belmont und Constanze, oder Die Entführung aus dem Serail||2 soprano, 2 tenor, 1 bass, 2 speaking roles||Burgtheater, Vienna, 16 July 1782|
|1784||L'oca del Cairo
The goose of Cairo
|Italian||Dramma giocoso (incomplete) in three acts||Giambattista Varesco||(Provisional) 4 soprano, 2 tenor, 2 bass, chorus||Théâtre des Fantaisies-Parisiennes, Paris, 6 June 1867. Not performed in Mozart's lifetime.|
|1784||Lo sposo deluso
The Deluded Bridegroom
|Italian||Opera buffa (incomplete) in two acts||Unknown. Once attributed to Lorenzo Da Ponte but may have been by Giuseppe Petrosellini.||(Provisional) 3 soprano, 2 tenor, 2 bass||Théâtre des Fantaisies-Parisiennes, Paris, 6 June 1867. Not performed in Mozart's lifetime.|
|German||Comedy with music in one act||Gottlieb Stephanie||2 soprano, 1 tenor, 1 bass, 6 speaking roles||Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, 7 February 1786|
|1786||Le nozze di Figaro
The Marriage of Figaro
|Italian||Opera buffa in four acts||Lorenzo da Ponte, based on Beaumarchais's La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro||5 soprano, 2 tenor, 1 baritone, 3 bass, chorus||Burgtheater, Vienna, 1 May 1786|
|1787||Don Giovanni||Italian||Dramma giocoso in two acts||Lorenzo Da Ponte, based on Giovanni Bertati's Don Giovanni Tenorio||3 soprano, 1 tenor, 1 baritone, 3 bass, chorus||Estates Theatre, Prague (also known as Nostitz-Theater and Tyl theatre), 29 October 1787|
|1790||Così fan tutte
Women are like that or All women do that
|Italian||Dramma giocoso in two acts||Lorenzo Da Ponte||3 soprano, 1 tenor, 1 baritone, 1 bass, chorus||Burgtheater, Vienna, 26 January 1790|
|K.592a||1790||Der Stein der Weisen
The Philosopher's Stone
(Pasticcio composed with J. B. Henneberg, F. Gerl, B. Schack and E. Schikaneder)
|German||Singspiel in two acts (collaboration)||Emanuel Schikaneder||3 soprano, 2 tenor, 2 baritone, 1 bass, 1 speaking role||Theater auf der Wieden, Vienna, 11 September 1790|
|1791||La clemenza di Tito
The clemency of Titus
|Italian||Opera seria in two acts||Metastasio, revised by Caterino Mazzolà||2 soprano, 2 mezzo-soprano, 1 tenor, 1 bass, chorus||Estates Theatre, Prague, 6 September 1791|
The Magic Flute
|German||Singspiel in two acts||Emanuel Schikaneder||6 soprano, 2 mezzo-soprano, 1 alto, 4 tenor, 1 baritone, 4 bass, chorus||Theater auf der Wieden, Vienna, 30 September 1791|
- Kenyon 2006, pp. 283–285.
- Cairns 2006, p. 11.
- Cairns 2006, p. 17.
- James Webster (2017). John A. Rice (ed.). Essays on Opera, 1750–1800. Ashgate Library of Essays in Opera Studies (reprint ed.). Routledge. p. 216. ISBN 9781351567886.
- Robert Levin (27 November 2008). "Musing on Mozart and Studying with Boulanger". The Boston Musical Intelligencer.
- Osborne 1992, pp. 191–192.
- Kenyon 2006, pp. 302.
- For example, Metastasio's text for Il re pastore had been written in 1751 and had been set to music before. Kenyon 2006, p. 303
- Kenyon 2006, p. 308.
- From a letter to his father, circa 1774, quoted in Holden 2007, p. xv
- According to some recent scholarship, the unknown Italian poet responsible for the text is more likely to have been Giuseppe Petrosellini, who initially prepared it for Domenico Cimarosa's opera Le donne rivali, 1780. Dell'Antonio 1996, pp. 404–405 and 415
- Rosen 1997, p. 155.
- For two instances in which Mozart coaxed his librettists into reshaping their work, see Die Entführung aus dem Serail (which quotes Mozart's correspondence on this point) and Varesco.
- "Gebotes" or "Gebottes" are archaic spelling variants of the modern "Gebots" which is regularly used in the title.
- Kenyon begins his guide to the operas with Apollo et Hyacinthus (Kenyon 2006, p. 287); Cairns more or less dismisses Die Schuldigkeit (Cairns 2006, p. 24), seemingly following the view of Edward J. Dent, quoted by Osborne 1992, p. 27. Grove, also, does not list Die Schuldigkeit as an opera.
- Osborne 1992, p. 26.
- Both were written in 1768. The first performance of La finta semplice was delayed until May 1779, whereas Bastien und Bastienne may have been performed in October 1768. It is entirely possible, however, that La finta semplice was written first. See Osborne 1992, pp. 37–38, 45
- Osborne 1992, p. 300.
- Köchel numbers refer to the Köchel Catalogue of Mozart's work, prepared by Ludwig von Köchel and first published in 1862. The catalogue has been revised several times, most recently in 1964. The first number refers to K1, the original numbering; the second to K6 from 1964.
- Unless indicated otherwise, these descriptions are taken from the title pages of Neue Mozart-Ausgabe. In instances where the English meaning is unclear, an English equivalent is given
- Unless noted otherwise, librettist details are as given by Osborne 1992
- Voice part summaries are as given by Osborne 1992. Additional notes indicate roles originally sung by castrati.
- Unless noted otherwise, details of first performances are as given by Osborne 1992.
- Part 2 is by Michael Haydn, Part 3 by Anton Cajetan Adlgasser. Osborne 1992, p. 16
- Weiser is the most likely of several possible authors of the text; see Osborne 1992, pp. 24–25.
- Kenyon 2006, p. 288 gives "Music for a Latin drama"
- Premiered with an all-male cast, the soprano and alto parts being sung by boy choristers. Osborne 1992, p. 32
- The text was derived from a French parody, Les amours de Bastien et Bastienne, a work by Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Le devin du village, 1752. Kenyon 2006, p. 291
- Dr Franz Anton Mesmer was the founder of the form of hypnotherapy known as "mesmerism". Batta 2000, p. 343
- The soprano roles of Sifare and Arbate, and the alto role of Farnace, were written for castrati. Osborne 1992, p. 59
- In Italian this translates to festa teatrale (Kenyon 2006, p. 294). Osborne 1992, p. 63 calls it a "pastoral opera".
- The soprano roles of Ascanio and Fauno were written for castrati. Osborne 1992, p. 69
- Details of first performance are obscure. Osborne 1992 gives dates "29 April or 1 May", Kenyon 2006, p. 296 says: "There is no record it was actually performed in 1772"
- The soprano role of Cecilio was written for a castrato. Osborne 1992, p. 86
- Mozart prepared a Singspiel version, Die verstellte Gärtnerin, produced in Augsburg on 1 May 1780. The German version, now known as Die Gärtnerin aus Liebe, has remained popular. Kenyon 2006, pp. 300–301, Osborne 1992, p. 97
- The libretto was formerly credited to Ranieri de' Calzabigi, revised by Marco Coltellini, but is now credited to Petrosellini. Kenyon 2006, p. 300
- The soprano role of Ramiro was written for a castrato.
- Kenyon 2006, p. 303.
- The soprano role of Aminta was written for castrato. Osborne 1992, p. 105
- The role of Idamante, originally written for castrato, was rewritten by Mozart as a tenor role in 1786. (Osborne 1992, p. 155) Also, the role of Arbace is sometimes sung by a tenor.
- One speaking role, that of a sailor, is absent from most modern productions
- Osborne 1992, pp. 208–209.
- Dell'Antonio 1996, p. 415.
- According to Osborne 1992, p. 207
- Two soprano soloists from the chorus sing the duet of the servant girls, "Amanti, costanti" in the act 3 finale. Osborne 1992, p. 251
- The full name of the opera is Il dissoluto punito, ossia Il Don Giovanni, but as Kenyon 2006, p. 326 states: "It is fruitless to argue against the habits of opera houses around the world".
- For the Vienna premiere, six months later, certain changes were introduced, mainly to accommodate the ranges of a different group of singers. Modern performances generally conflate the Prague and Vienna productions. Osborne 1992, p. 268
- This is an approximate translation from the Italian. Cairns (Cairns 2006, p. 177) gives: "That is what all women do". The subtitle, La scola degli amanti, is more easily translatable as "The School for lovers". Cairns 2006, p. 176, Osborne 1992, p. 281
- One mezzo-soprano role, depicting the male character Annio, was originally a castrato and is now done by mezzos. The role of Sesto (Sextus) was originally written by Mozart for a tenor before he found out it had been assigned to a mezzo castrato.
- András Batta (editor) (2000). Opera: Composers, Works, Performers (English ed.). Cologne: Könemann. ISBN 3-8290-3571-3
- Cairns, David (2006). Mozart and his Operas. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-029674-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Dell'Antonio, Andrew (1996). "Il Compositore Deluso: The Fragments of Mozart's Comic Opera Lo Sposo Deluso (K424a/430)". In Stanley Sadie (ed.). Wolfgang Amadé Mozart: Essays on His Life and Work. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-816443-2.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Holden, Anthony (2007). The Man Who Wrote Mozart: The extraordinary life of Lorenzo Da Ponte. London: Phoenix. ISBN 978-0-7538-2180-0.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Kenyon, Nicholas (2006). The Pegasus Pocket Guide to Mozart. New York: Pegasus Books. ISBN 1-933648-23-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Osborne, Charles (1992). The Complete Operas of Mozart. London: Victor Gollancz. ISBN 0-575-03823-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Rosen, Charles (1997). The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven. New York: Norton. ISBN 0-393-00653-0.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- "Neue Mozart-Ausgabe" [New Mozart Edition]. Bärenreiter.
- Dent, Edward J. (1973). Mozart's Operas: A Critical Study. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-284001-0.
- Glover, Jane (2005). Mozart's Women. London: MacMillan. ISBN 1-4050-2121-7.
- Gutman, Robert W. (2000). Mozart: A Cultural Biography. London: Secker and Warburg. ISBN 0-304-31135-9.
- Heartz, Daniel, ed. (1990). Mozart's Operas. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-07872-1.
- Mann, William (1986). The Operas of Mozart. London: Cassell. ISBN 0-304-31135-9.
- Newman, Ernest (1954). More Opera Nights. London: Putnam.
- Robbins, Landon, H. C. (1990). 1791: Mozart's Last Year. London: Fontana. ISBN 0-00-654324-3.
- Steptoe, Andrew (1988). The Mozart–Da Ponte Operas. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-816221-9.
- Till, Nicholas (1993). Mozart and the Enlightenment. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-17042-0.