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date: 19 November 2019

Prima la musica e poi le parole (‘First the Music and then the Words’)locked

  • John A. Rice

Extract

(‘First the Music and then the Words’)

Divertimento teatrale in one act by Antonio Salieri to a libretto by giovanni battista Casti; Vienna, Schönbrunn Orangerie, 7 February 1786.

Emperor Joseph II commissioned the opera for performance at Schönbrunn Palace; members of the Burgtheater’s Italian troupe presented it at one end of the orangery; at the other end members of the German troupe gave Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor, also commissioned for the occasion. Like its companion-piece, Prima la musica is a lighthearted look at opera and opera singers. A Music Director (bass) and a Poet (bass) argue about preparations for an opera. The Music Director insists it must be ready for performance in four days, but the Poet says more time is needed. The Music Director explains that the music is already written and the Poet need only write verses to fit the music – it is of little importance that the music express the meaning of the words.

Eleonora (soprano), a role created by Nancy Storace, is a prima donna who specializes in ...

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