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Der Schauspieldirektor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Der Schauspieldirektor
Singspiel by W. A. Mozart
Mozart drawing Doris Stock 1789.jpg
The composer, drawing by Doris Stock, 1789
TranslationThe Impresario
LibrettistGottlieb Stephanie
7 February 1786 (1786-02-07)
Schönbrunn Palace Orangery, Vienna

Der Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario), K. 486, is a comic singspiel by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, set to a German libretto by Gottlieb Stephanie, an Austrian Schauspieldirektor. Originally, it was written because of "the imperial command" of the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II who had invited 80 guests to a private luncheon.[1] It is regarded as "a parody on the vanity of singers",[1] who argue over status and pay.

Mozart, who describes it as "comedy with music"[2] wrote it as his entry in a musical competition which was given a private performance hosted on 7 February 1786 by Joseph II at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.[3] 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 e poi le parole (First the Music, then the Words), which was then given at the other end of the room.[1] The premiere was followed by the first of three public performances given four days later at the Kärntnertor Theater, Vienna, on 11 February.[3]

Composition history

The work was written during a very creative period in 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".[1]

In addition to the overture, there are only four vocal numbers in the score, and the musical content (about 30 minutes)[4] is surrounded by much spoken dialogue, typical 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".[1] Although it has been described as a "silly farce", Mozart appears to have taken the opportunity to write serious arias[2] 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 elegant rondo, "Bester Jüngling" ("Dearest Youth").[2]

Performance history

Henry Edward Krehbiel's translation of The Impresario toured the United States in 1921.
Henry Edward Krehbiel's translation of The Impresario toured the United States in 1921.

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.[1]

In modern times, the text is usually completely rewritten for contemporary relevance, which was the case for the 2014 production given by the Santa Fe Opera. There it had "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.[5] The cast included Anthony Michaels-Moore, Brenda Rae, Meredith Arwady, and Erin Morley.[6]

The 1966 recording by the English Chamber Orchestra (conducted by André Previn), was performed with an English libretto penned by Previn's then wife Dory Previn, who transplanted the amusing tale to the 20th century.[7]


Role Voice type Premiere cast, 7 February 1786[3]
(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


Place: Vienna
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 (Herz: "Da schlägt die Abschiedsstunde", Silberklang: "Bester Jüngling"). An agreement is reached when the tenor, Vogelsang, intervenes, in what Julian 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".[2] The work ended with the quartet "Jeder Künstler strebt nach Ehre" (Every artist strives for glory).


Year Cast:
Madame Herz,
Mlle Silberklang,
Opera house and orchestra
1966 Judith Raskin,
Reri Grist,
Richard Lewis,
Sherrill Milnes
André Previn,
English Chamber Orchestra
Leo McKern as Impresario[7]
CD: Sony
Cat: 88985470422
Sleeve notes by George R. Marek
1968 Sylvia Geszty,
Rosemarie Rönisch,
Peter Schreier,
Hermann Christian Polster
Helmut Koch,
Kammerorchester Berlin
CD: Berlin Classics
Cat: 9136. Complete recording of 10 scenes including those spoken.
Also used in Brilliant Classics' Mozart – Complete Works.
1974 Reri Grist,
Arleen Auger,
Peter Schreier,
Kurt Moll
Karl Böhm,
Staatskapelle Dresden
CD: Deutsche Grammophon
Cat: DG 429 877-2 (+ Die Zauberflöte)
1986 Magda Nador,
Krisztina Laki,
Thomas Hampson,
Harry van der Kamp
Nikolaus Harnoncourt,
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
CD: Teldec
Cat: 8 43336 (+ Salieri's Prima la musica, poi la parole)
1990 Edita Gruberová,
Kiri Te Kanawa,
Uwe Heilmann,
Manfred Jungwirth
John Pritchard,
Vienna Philharmonic
CD: Decca,
Cat: 475 7049 (+ concert arias)
2001 Cyndia Sieden,
Sharon Baker,
John Aler,
Kevin Deas
Martin Pearlman,
Boston Baroque
CD: Telarc
Cat: 80573 (+ Der wohltätige Derwisch [de] by Benedikt Schack)




  • Rushton, Julian (1998). "Der Schauspieldirektor". In Stanley Sadie (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. 4. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-73432-7.
  • Smith, Erik (2001). "Der Schauspieldirektor". In Amanda Holden (ed.). The New Penguin Opera Guide. New York: Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-14-029312-4.

External links

This page was last edited on 29 March 2021, at 19:31
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