Der Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario), by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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Mozart is considered to be one, if not the greatest, musical genius’ of all time. Taught music at a very young age, he drew the attention of the Emperor Joseph II. His style of music had a deep impact on Viennese classical music and in every single genre, whether it was opera, sacred works, symphonies or divertimenti, Mozart perfected the art of classical composition.

The Impresario is a comedy with music in one act; the libretto was produced by Johann Gottlieb Stephanie the Younger (who first played the impresario Frank). It was composed for a court celebration. It premiered on the 7th February 1786 at Schonbrunn and is set in the rooms of Herr Frank in the 18th century.

Characters:

Frank, the impresario (spoken)

Eiler, a banker (spoken)

Buff, an actor (Bass)

Herz, an actor (spoken)

Madame Pfeil, Madame Krone and Madame Vogelsang, actresses (3 spoken)

Monsieur Vogelsang, a singer (Tenor)

Madame Herz and Mademoiselle Silberklang, singers (Soprano, Soprano)

Synopsis:

The impresario Frank is gathering a group of travelling players, both actors and singers. The actor Buff (who was first played by Mozart’s brother-in-law, Joseph Lange) gives Frank some advice – he needs to sign the actors on at a low wage but still advertises the performances in a truly spectacular way. He also advises to bribe the critics and to pay less attention to artistic merit than to effectiveness when pieces are chosen.

The banker Eiler (who was played by the famous Burgtheatre actor, Johann Franz Hieronymus Brockmann) safeguards the financial side of things. He is trying to arrange a role for his mistress, Madame Pfeil (who was played by the popular Viennese actress, Johanna Sacco).

The multiple contenders all try to outdo each other, trying to show off their talent by presenting to Frank different scenes. There is particular rivalry between the two prima donnas Madame Herz and Mademoiselle Silberklang (whose names mean ‘heart’ and ‘silvery tones’). Madame Herz performs an aria in the Italian style and Mademoiselle Silberklang’s in the French style.

The first aria is very sentimental, the second is more charming. In the trio the two singers carry on with their rivalry with ever increasing tensions. Monsieur Vogelsang tries to calm the singers down. Frank then threatens to abandon the plans for a travelling troupe. The artists then come together and join in together with a song of praise for the morality of artists.

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