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Lost Cantata Co-Written by Mozart and Salieri Found!

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MozartSalieriCantata

Photo of the Czech Museum of Music Library, Prague, published in the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung.  The original caption indicates that Salieri’s portion ends at the top of the page and is followed by Mozart’s contribution to the piece.

Timo Jouko Herrmann, music researcher and expert on the works of Antonio Salieri, has made a startling discovery:  he has found the text and music for a lost solo cantata Mozart and Salieri wrote together in 1785.

So much for the Amadeus movie and any conspiracy theories that may have been floating around.

Herrmann was doing research on the holdings of the Czech Museum of Music Library in Prague when he found the text, and then the music, for a solo cantata written for soprano Nancy Storace.  The piece was called Per la ricuperata salute di Ofelia [On the Recovery of the Health of Ofelia].

Salieri wrote the role of Ofelia in his opera La Grotta di Trofonio [Trofonio’s Cave] specifically for Storace.  However, she had to miss the opening because she lost her voice.  Her recovery took four months.  Mozart wrote the role of Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro [The Marriage of Figaro] for her after she regained her voice.

In 1785 many newspapers contained stories about the piece, which was given the Köchel number KV477a (each of Mozart’s compositions has its own number).  But it was considered lost.  It was known that Mozart and Salieri had collaborated on the piece.

The text is drawn from a 30-stanza poem written by Lorenzo da Ponte.  Only four stanzas were set in the solo cantata.  Mozart wrote the middle of the piece.  The beginning was written by Salieri, the final portion by someone named Cornetti, whose identity remains unclear.

The title of the work was recorded accurately in the library’s online catalog.  Amazingly, no one realized that it referred to the lost work.

In an interview, Hermann noted that he had planned to go through the library’s online libretto catalog in search of a title by one of Salieri’s students, Antonio Cartellieri.  He was surprised and delighted to come upon the text.  But when he found not only the text but the notes that went with it, Hermann said, “I could hardly believe my luck.”

Herrmann has submitted an early publication to the Leipziger Hofmeister Verlag to inform musicians where the composition can be found.

Plans are being made by the Mozarteum in Salzburg to stage a public performance of the piece in late February.

References

Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung 19 January 2016  http://www.rnz.de/kultur-tipps/kultur-regional_artikel,-Walldorfer-Musikforscher-weist-Teamwork-von –Mozart-und-Salieri-nach-_arid,162807.htmlhttp://www.rnz.de/kultur-tipps/kultur-regional_artikel,-Walldorfer-Musikforscher-weist-Teamwork-von%20–Mozart-und-Salieri-nach-_arid,162807.html

Mozarteum, 19 January http://www.mozarteum.at/start/meldung/276

Schwäbische.de, 10 January 2016 http://www.schwaebische.de/panorama/kultur_artikel,-Sensation-Gemeinschaftswerk-von-Mozart-und-Salieri-in-Prag-entdeckt-_arid,10372846.html

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One thought on “Lost Cantata Co-Written by Mozart and Salieri Found!

  1. Nice. Yes, as much fun as Amadeus is, historically it’s bullshit. Though its underlying psychology is probably “true.” Eager to hear this newly-discovered piece, though my guess would be it’s pretty routine stuff.

    Tom

    Like

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