“Prima la musica e poi le parole” (First the music and then the words) is an opera in one act by Antonio Salieri to a libretto by Giovanni Battista Casti. The work was first performed on 7 February 1786 in Vienna, following a commission by the Emperor Joseph II. The opera was first performed at one end of the orangery of the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna by an Italian troupe; simultaneously, Mozart’s “Der Schauspieldirektor” was staged at the other end. Emperor Joseph II intended to put the Italian work in competition against the German singspiel.
The title of the opera is the theme of Richard Strauss’s opera Capriccio which debates the relative importance of music and drama in opera.
“Der Schauspieldirektor” (The Impresario) 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. It is regarded as “a parody on the vanity of singers”, who argue over status and pay.
Mozart, who describes it as “comedy with music” 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. 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. The premiere was followed by the first of three public performances given four days later at the Kärntnertor Theater, Vienna, on 11 February.
Location: Malibran Theatre, Venice
Schedule: from October 9 to 20, 2020