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April 10, 2020
Concert performances on 10 and 13 April 2020 at the Estates Theatre
The performance of Zaide will feature an international cast of soloists, including Lada Bočková, Joel Prieto, Thomas Atkins, Boris Prýgl and Levente Páll. The music has been explored by the English conductor Christopher Moulds, a distinguished specialist in Baroque and Classical music.
A work shrouded in mystery, Zaide occupies a peculiar position among Mozart’s operas. The composer began writing it in 1779 with a view to gaining recognition as a creator of German-language opera, or, more precisely, singspiel, supported by the Emperor. Accordingly, he opted for the then popular subject of rescuing enslaved Europeans held captive in the Ottoman Empire. Mozart used J. A. Schachtner’s libretto, depicting the story of Zaide, imprisoned, and also loved, by the Sultan himself.
National Theatre Orchestra
Yet after completing 15 musical numbers he, for reasons unknown, set the score aside and would never finish it. The libretto has not survived, so it is not clear how Mozart’s opera was to end, thus raising the question: does the lovelorn Sultan have the heroine and her secret lover executed for their attempt to flee or does he magnanimously pardon them? Mozart would only provide the answer in the later, much more renowned, Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio), a singspiel treating a very similar story, conceiving the heroine in a very similar manner, and even featuring the figure and name of Osmin, the gruff overseer. Even though unfinished, Zaide shows that Mozart was a true master of music drama long before he created his most celebrated Vienna and Prague operas.
The concert performance of the surviving arias and ensembles from the opera will be supplemented by Mozart’s Symphony No. 34 in C major, written in 1780, the year from which Zaide too dates. Its three movements will be played as an overture, intermezzo and finale in three parts of the opera evening.
By their appearance, attire and behaviour, the audience is obliged to adhere to the accustomed practice expected from them when attending a theatre performance.