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date: 20 November 2019

Kaufmann von Smyrna, Der (‘The Merchant of Smyrna’)locked

  • Thomas Bauman
  •  and Paul Corneilson

Extract

(‘The Merchant of Smyrna’)

Singspiel in one act by Georg Joseph Vogler to a libretto by Christian Friedrich Schwan after Nicolas Chamfort’s one-act comedy Le marchand de Smyrne; Mannheim, Schauspielhaus auf dem Fruchtmarkt, summer 1771.

Der Kaufmann von Smyrna has some points of similarity with Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail. The naive and sentimental story has an exotic, Turkish setting. A rich Turk, Hassan (tenor), has vowed to free a Christian slave. Among the slaves brought in on the ship of the villainous trader Kaled (bass) Hassan recognizes the Frenchman Dornal (tenor), who earlier had freed him from captivity in France. He buys his freedom; coincidentally Hassan’s wife, Zayde (soprano), has arranged to buy Dornal’s wife, Amalie (soprano). In the end Dornal and Amalie are reunited despite the protests of Kaled.

The work was originally performed by Theobald Marchand’s company, and Vogler added two arias for the revival on 20 February 1778. The latter production probably featured Barbara Strasser as Zayde, Aloysia Weber as Amalie, and Ludwig Fischer as Kaled. Vogler’s score juxtaposes the simple melodic idiom of comic opera with virtuoso orchestral and vocal writing characteristic of the Mannheim operatic tradition. Kaled’s two arias include janissary music complete with cymbals, drums and triangles....

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