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(This is taken from R. A. Streatfeild's The Opera, originally published in 1907.)
Although Mozart's (1756-1791) earliest years were passed at Salzburg, the musical influences which surrounded his cradle were mainly Italian. Salzburg imitated Vienna, and Vienna, in spite of Gluck, was still Italian in its sympathies, so far at any rate as opera seria was concerned. Mozart wrote his first opera, 'La Finta Semplice,' for Vienna, when he was twelve years old. It would have been performed in 1768 but for the intrigues of jealous rivals and the knavery of an impresario. It was not actually produced until the following year, when the Archbishop of Salzburg arranged a performance of it in his own city to console his little protégé for his disappointment at Vienna. It is of course an extraordinary work when the composer's age is taken into account, but intrinsically differs little from the thousand and one comic operas of the period, Mozart's first German opera, 'Bastien und Bastienne,' though written after 'La Finta Semplice,' was performed before it. It was given in 1768 in a private theatre belonging to Dr. Anton Meszmer, a rich Viennese bourgeois. It follows the lines of Miller's Singspiele closely, but shows more originality, especially in the orchestration, than 'La Finta Semplice.' The plot of the little work is an imitation of Rousseau's 'Devin du Village,' telling of the quarrels of a rustic couple, and their reconciliation through the good offices of a travelling conjurer. It was significant that the Italian and German schools should be respectively represented in the two infant works of the man who was afterwards to fuse the special beauties of each in works of immortal loveliness. Mozart's next four operas were, for the most part, hastily written—'Mitridate, Re di Ponto' (1770) and 'Lucio Silla' (1775) for Milan, "La Finta Giardiniera' (1775) for Munich, and 'Il Re Pastore' (1775) for Salzburg. They adhere pretty closely to the conventional forms of the day, and, in spite of the beauty of many of the airs, can scarcely be said to contain much evidence of Mozart's incomparable genius. In 1778 the young composer visited Paris, where he stayed for several months. This period may be looked upon as the turning-point in his operatic career. In Paris he heard the operas of Gluck and Grétry, besides those of the Italian composers, such as Piccinni and Sacchini, whose best works were written for the French stage. He studied their scores carefully, and from them he learnt the principles of orchestration, which he was afterwards to turn to such account in 'Don Giovanni' and 'Die Zauberflöte,' The result of his studies was plainly visible in the first work which he produced after his return to Germany, 'Idomeneo.' This was written for the Court Theatre at Munich, and was performed for the first time on the 29th of January, 1781. The libretto, by the Abbé Giambattista Varesco, was modelled upon an earlier French work which had already been set to music by Campra. Idomeneo, King of Crete, on his way home from the siege of Troy, is overtaken by a terrific storm. In despair of his life, he vows that, should he reach the shore alive, he will sacrifice the first human being he meets to Neptune. This proves to be his son Idamante, who has been reigning in his stead during his absence. When he finds out who the victim is—for at first he does not recognise him—he tries to evade his vow by sending Idamante away to foreign lands. Electra the daughter of Agamemnon, driven from her country after the murder of her mother, has taken refuge in Crete, and Idomeneo bids his son return with her to Argos, and ascend the throne of the Atreidæ. Idamante loves Ilia, the daughter of Priam, who has been sent to Crete some time before as a prisoner from Troy, and is loved by her in return. Nevertheless he bows to his father's will, and is preparing to embark with Electra, when a storm arises, and a frightful sea monster issues from the waves and proceeds to devastate the land. The terror-stricken people demand that the victim shall be produced, and Idomeneo is compelled to confess that he has doomed his son to destruction. All are overcome with horror, but the priests begin to prepare for the sacrifice. Suddenly cries of joy are heard, and Idamante, who has slain the monster single-handed, is brought in by the priests and people. He is ready to die, and his father is preparing to strike the fatal blow, when Ilia rushes in and entreats to be allowed to die in his place. The lovers are still pleading anxiously with each other when a subterranean noise is heard, the statue of Neptune rocks, and a solemn voice pronounces the will of the gods in majestic accents. Idomeneo is to renounce the throne, and Idamante is to marry Ilia and reign in his stead. Every one except Electra is vastly relieved, and the opera ends with dances and rejoicings.
The music of 'Idomeneo' is cast for the most part in Italian form, though the influence of Gluck is obvious in many points, particularly in the scene of the oracle. Here we find Mozart in his maturity for the first time; he has become a man, and put away childish things. In two points 'Idomeneo' is superior to any opera that had previously been written—in the concerted music (the choruses as well as the trios and quartets), and in the instrumentation. The chorus is promoted from the part which it usually plays in Gluck, that of a passive spectator. It joins in the drama, and takes an active part in the development of the plot, and the music which it is called upon to sing is often finer and more truly dramatic than that allotted to the solo singers. But the chorus had already been used effectively by Gluck and other composers; it is in his solo concerted music that Mozart forges ahead of all possible rivals. The power which he shows of contrasting the conflicting emotions of his characters in elaborate concerted movements was something really new to the stage. The one quartet in Handel's 'Radamisto' and the one trio in his 'Alcina,' magnificent as they are, are too exceptional in their occurrence to be quoted as instances, while the attempts of Rameau and his followers to impose dramatic significance into their concerted music, though technically interesting, do but faintly foreshadow the glory of Mozart. The orchestration of 'Idomeneo,' too, is something of the nature of a revelation. At Munich, Mozart had at his disposal an excellent and well-trained band, and this may go far to explain the elaborate care which he bestowed upon the instrumental side of his opera. The colouring of the score is sublime in conception and brilliant in detail. Even now it well repays the closest and most intimate study. 'Idomeneo' is practically the foundation of all modern orchestration.
Mozart's next work was very different both in scope and execution. It has already been pointed out that the two first works which the composer, as a child, wrote for the stage, followed respectively the Italian and German models. Similarly, he signalised his arrival at the full maturity of his powers by producing an Italian and German masterpiece side by side. 'Die Entführung aus dem Serail' was written for the Court Theatre at Vienna, in response to a special command of the Emperor Joseph II. It was produced on July 13, 1782. The original libretto was the work of C.F. Bretzner, but Mozart introduced so many alterations and improvements into the fabric of the story that, as it stands, much of it is practically his own work.
The Pasha Selim has carried off a Christian damsel named Constanze, whom he keeps in close confinement in his seraglio, in the hope that she may consent to be his wife. Belmont, Constanze's lover, has traced her to the Pasha's country house with the assistance of Pedrillo, a former servant of his own, now the Pasha's slave and chief gardener. Belmont's attempts to enter the house are frustrated by Osmin, the surly major-domo. At last, however, through the good offices of Pedrillo, he contrives to gain admission in the character of an architect. Osmin has a special motive for disliking Pedrillo, who has forestalled him in the affections of Blondchen, Constanze's maid; nevertheless he is beguiled by the wily servant into a drinking bout, and quieted with a harmless narcotic. This gives the lovers an opportunity for an interview, in which the details of their flight are arranged. The next night they make their escape. Belmont gets off safely with Constanze, but Pedrillo and Blondchen are seen by Osmin before they are clear of the house. The hue and cry is raised, and both couples are caught and brought back. They are all condemned to death, but the soft-hearted Pasha is so much overcome by their fidelity and self-sacrifice that he pardons them and sends them away in happiness.
Much of 'Die Entführung' is so thoroughly and characteristically German, that at first sight it may be thought surprising that it should have succeeded so well in a city like Vienna, which was inclined to look upon the Singspiel as a barbarian product of Northern Germany. But there is a reason for this, and it is one which goes to the root of the whole question of comic opera. Mozart saw that Italian comic operas often succeeded in spite of miserable libretti, because the entire interest was concentrated upon the music, and all the rest was forgotten. The German Singspiel writers made the mistake of letting their music be, for the most part, purely incidental, and conducting all the dramatic part of their plots by dialogue. Mozart borrowed the underlying idea of the opera buffa, applied it to the form of the Singspiel, which he kept intact, and produced a work which succeeded in revolutionising the history of German opera. But, apart from the question of form, the music of 'Die Entführung' is in itself fine enough to be the foundation even of so imposing a structure as modern German music. The orchestral forces at Mozart's disposal were on a smaller scale than at Munich; but though less elaborate than that of 'Idomeneo,' the score of 'Die Entführung' is full of the tenderest and purest imagination. But the real importance of the work lies in the vivid power of characterisation, which Mozart here reveals for the first time in full maturity. It is by the extraordinary development of this quality that he transcends all other writers for the stage before or since. It is no exaggeration to say that Mozart's music reveals the inmost soul of the characters of his opera as plainly as if they were discussed upon a printed page. In his later works the opportunities given him of proving this magical power were more frequent and better. The libretto of 'Die Entführung' is a poor affair at best, but, considering the materials with which he had to work, Mozart never accomplished truer or more delicate work than in the music of Belmont and Constanze, of Pedrillo, and greatest of all, of Osmin.
In 1786 Mozart wrote the music to a foolish little one-act comedy entitled 'Der Schauspieldirektor,' describing the struggles of two rival singers for an engagement. A sparkling overture and a genuinely comic trio are the best numbers of the score; but the libretto gave Mozart little opportunity of exercising his peculiar talents. Since his original production various attempts have been made to fit 'Der Schauspieldirektor' with new and more effective libretti, but in no case has its performance attained any real success.
For the sake of completeness it may be well to mention the existence of a comic opera entitled 'L'Oie du Caïre,' which is an exceedingly clever combination of the fragments left by Mozart of two unfinished operas, 'L'Oca del Cairo' and 'Lo Sposo Deluso,' fitted to a new and original libretto by the late M. Victor Wilder. In its modern form, this little opera, in which a lover is introduced into his mistress's garden inside an enormous goose, has been successfully performed both in France and England.
Not even the success of 'Die Entführung' could permanently establish German opera in Vienna. The musical sympathies of the aristocracy were entirely Italian, and Mozart had to bow to expediency. His next work, 'Le Nozze de Figaro' (1786), was written to an adaptation of Beaumarchais's famous comedy 'Le Mariage de Figaro,' which had been produced in Paris a few years before. Da Ponte, the librettist, wisely omitted all the political references, which contributed so much to the popularity of the original play, and left only a bustling comedy of intrigue, not perhaps very moral in tendency, but full of amusing incident and unflagging in spirit. It speaks volumes for the ingenuity of the librettist that though the imbroglio is often exceedingly complicated, no one feels the least difficulty in following every detail of it on the stage, though it is by no means easy to give a clear and comprehensive account of all the ramifications of the plot.
The scene is laid at the country-house of Count Almaviva. Figaro, the Count's valet, and Susanna, the Countess's maid, are to be married that day; but Figaro, who is well aware that the Count has a penchant for his fiancée, is on his guard against machinations in that quarter. Enter the page Cherubino, an ardent youth who is devotedly attached to his mistress. He has been caught by the Count flirting with Barberina, the gardener's daughter, and promptly dismissed from his service, and now he comes to Susanna to entreat her to intercede for him with the Countess. While the two are talking they hear the Count approaching, and Susanna hastily hides Cherubino behind a large arm-chair. The Count comes to offer Susanna a dowry if she will consent to meet him that evening, but she will have nothing to say to him. Basilio, the music-master, now enters, and the Count has only just time to slip behind Cherubino's arm-chair, while the page creeps round to the front of it, and is covered by Susanna with a cloak. Basilio, while repeating the Count's proposals, refers to Cherubino's passion for the Countess. This arouses the Count, who comes forward in a fury, orders the immediate dismissal of the page, and by the merest accident discovers the unlucky youth ensconced in the arm-chair. As Cherubino has heard every word of the interview, the first thing to do is to get him out of the way. The Count therefore presents him with a commission in his own regiment, and bids him pack off to Seville post-haste. Figaro now appears with all the villagers in holiday attire to ask the Count to honour his marriage by giving the bride away. The Count cannot refuse, but postpones the ceremony for a few hours in the hope of gaining time to prosecute his suit. Meanwhile the Countess, Susanna, and Figaro are maturing a plot of their own to discomfit the Count and bring him back to the feet of his wife. Figaro writes an anonymous letter to the Count, telling him that the Countess has made an assignation with a stranger for that evening in the garden, hoping by this means to arouse his jealousy and divert his mind from the wedding. He assures him also of Susanna's intention to keep her appointment in the garden, intending that Cherubino, who has been allowed to put off his departure, shall be dressed up as a girl and take Susanna's place at the interview. The page comes to the Countess's room to be dressed, when suddenly the conspirators hear the Count approaching. Cherubino is hastily locked in an inner room, while Susanna slips Into an alcove.
While the Count is plying his wife with angry questions, Cherubino clumsily knocks over a chair. The Count hears the noise, and quickly jumps to the conclusion that the page is hiding in the inner room. The Countess denies everything and refuses to give up the key, whereupon the Count drags her off with him to get an axe to break in the door. Meanwhile Susanna liberates Cherubino, and takes his place in the inner room, while the latter escapes by jumping down into the garden. When the Count finally opens the door and discovers only Susanna within, his rage is turned to mortification, and he is forced to sue for pardon. The Countess is triumphant, but a change is given to the position of affairs by the appearance of Antonio, the gardener, who comes to complain that his flowers have been destroyed by someone jumping on them from the window. The Count's jealous fears are returning, but Figaro allays them by declaring that he is the culprit, and that he made his escape by the window in order to avoid the Count's anger. Antonio then produces a paper which he found dropped among the flowers. This proves to be Cherubino's commission. Once more the secret is nearly out, but Figaro saves the situation by declaring that the page gave it to him to get the seal affixed. The Countess and Susanna are beginning to congratulate themselves on their escape, when another diversion is created by the entrance of Marcellina, the Countess's old duenna, and Bartolo, her ex-guardian. Marcellina has received a promise in writing from Figaro that he will marry her if he fails to pay a sum of money which he owes her by a certain date, and she comes to claim her bridegroom. The Count is delighted at this new development, and promises Marcellina that she shall get her rights.
The second act (according to the original arrangement) is mainly devoted to clearing up the various difficulties. Figaro turns out to be the long-lost son of Marcellina and Bartolo, so the great impediment to his marriage is effectually removed, and by the happy plan of a disguise the Countess takes Susanna's place at the assignation, and receives the ardent declarations of her husband. When the Count discovers his mistake he is thoroughly ashamed of himself, and his vows of amendment bring the piece to a happy conclusion.
It seems hardly possible to write critically of the music of 'Le Nozze di Figaro,' Mozart had in a superabundant degree that power which is characteristic of our greatest novelists, of infusing the breath of life into his characters. We rise from seeing a performance of 'Le Nozze,' with no consciousness of the art employed, but with a feeling of having assisted in an actual scene in real life. It is not until afterwards that the knowledge is forced upon us that this convincing presentment of nature is the result of a combination of the purest inspiration of genius with the highest development of art. Mozart knew everything that was to be known about music, and 'Le Nozze di Figaro,' in spite of its supreme and unapproachable beauty, is really only the legitimate outcome of two centuries of steady development. Perhaps the most striking feature of the work is the absolute consistency of the whole. In spite of the art with which the composer has Individualised his characters, there is no clashing between the different types of music allotted to each. As for the music itself, if the exuberant youthfulness of 'Die Entführung' has been toned down to a serener flow of courtliness, we are compensated for the loss by the absence of the mere bravura which disfigures many of the airs in the earlier work. The dominant characteristic of the music is that wise and tender sympathy with the follies and frailties of mankind, which moves us with a deeper pathos than the most terrific tragedy ever penned. It is perhaps the highest achievement of the all-embracing genius of Mozart that he made an artificial comedy of intrigue, which is trivial when it is not squalid, into one of the great music dramas of the world.
Mozart's next work, 'Don Giovanni' (October 29, 1787), was written for Prague, a city which had always shown him more real appreciation than Vienna. It was adapted by Da Ponte from a Spanish tale which had already been utilised by Molière. Although, so far as incident goes, it is not perhaps an ideal libretto, it certainly contains many of the elements of success. The characters are strongly marked and distinct, and the supernatural part of the story, which appealed particularly to Mozart's imagination and indeed determined him to undertake the opera, is managed with consummate skill.
Don Giovanni, a licentious Spanish nobleman, who is attracted by the charms of Donna Anna, the daughter of the Commandant of Seville, breaks into her palace under cover of night, in the hope of making her his own. She resists him and calls for help. In the struggle which ensues the Commandant is killed by Don Giovanni, who escapes unrecognised. Donna Elvira, his deserted wife, has pursued him to Seville, but he employs his servant Leporello to occupy her attention while he pays court to Zerlina, a peasant girl, who is about to marry an honest clodhopper named Masetto. Donna Anna now recognises Don Giovanni as her father's assassin, and communicates her discovery to her lover, Don Ottavio; Elvira joins them, and the three vow vengeance against the libertine. Don Giovanni gives a ball in honour of Zerlina's marriage, and in the course of the festivities seizes an opportunity of trying to seduce her. He is only stopped by the interference of Anna, Elvira, and Ottavio, who have made their way into his palace in masks and dominoes. In the next act the vengeance of the three conspirators appears to hang fire a little, for Don Giovanni is still pursuing his vicious courses, and employing Leporello to beguile the too trustful Elvira. After various escapades he finds himself before the statue of the murdered Commandant. He jokingly invites his old antagonist to sup with him, an invitation which the statue, to his intense surprise, hastens to accept. Leporello and his master return to prepare for the entertainment of the evening. When the merriment is at its height, a heavy step is heard in the corridor, and the marble man enters. Don Giovanni is still undaunted, and even when his terrible visitor offers him the choice between repentance and damnation, yields not a jot of his pride and insolence. Finally the statue grasps him by the hand and drags him down, amid flames and earthquakes, to eternal torment.
The taste of Mozart's time would not permit the drama to finish here. All the other characters have to assemble once more. Leporello gives them an animated description of his master's destruction, and they proceed to draw a most edifying moral from the doom of the sinner. The music to this finale is of matchless beauty and interest, but modern sentiment will not hear of so grievous an anti-climax, and the opera now usually ends with Don Giovanni's disappearance.
The music of 'Don Giovanni' has so often been discussed, that brief reference to its more salient features will be all that is necessary. Gounod has written of it: 'The score of "Don Giovanni" has influenced my life like a revelation. It stands in my thoughts as an incarnation of dramatic and musical impeccability,' and lesser men will be content to echo his words. The plot is less dramatically coherent than that of 'Le Nozze di Figaro,' but it ranges over a far wider gamut of human feeling. From the comic rascality of Leporello to the unearthly terrors of the closing scene is a vast step, but Mozart is equally at home in both. His incomparable art of characterisation is here displayed in even more consummate perfection than in the earlier work. The masterly way in which he differentiates the natures of his three soprani—Anna, a type of noble purity; Elvira, a loving and long-suffering woman, alternating between jealous indignation and voluptuous tenderness; and Zerlina, a model of rustic coquetry—may especially be remarked, but all the characters are treated with the same profound knowledge of life and human nature. Even in his most complicated concerted pieces he never loses grip of the idiosyncrasies of his characters, and in the most piteous and tragic situations he never relinquishes for a moment his pure ideal of intrinsic musical beauty. If there be such a thing as immortality for any work of art, it must surely be conceded to 'Don Giovanni.'
'Così fan tutte,' his next work, was produced at Vienna in January, 1790. It has never been so successful as its two predecessors, chiefly on account of its libretto, which, though a brisk little comedy of intrigue, is almost too slight to bear a musical setting. The plot turns upon a wager laid by two young officers with an old cynic of their acquaintance to prove the constancy of their respective sweethearts. After a touching leave-taking they return disguised as Albanians and proceed to make violent love each one to the other's fiancée. The ladies at first resist the ardent strangers, but end by giving way, and the last scene shows their repentance and humiliation when they discover that the too attractive foreigners are their own lovers after all. There is much delightful music in the work, and it is greatly to be regretted that it should have been so completely cast into the shade by 'Le Nozze di Figaro,'
Mozart's next opera, 'La Clemenza di Tito,' was hastily written, while he was suffering from the illness which in the end proved fatal. The libretto was an adaptation of an earlier work by Metastasio. Cold and formal, and almost totally devoid of dramatic interest, it naturally failed to inspire the composer. The form in which it was cast compelled him to return to the conventions of opera seria, from which he had long escaped, and altogether, as an able critic remarked at the time, the work might rather be taken for the first attempt of budding talent than for the product of a mature mind. The story deals with the plotting of Vitellia, the daughter of the deposed Vitellius, to overthrow the Emperor Titus. She persuades her lover Sextus to conspire against his friend, and he succeeds in setting the Capitol on fire. Titus, however, escapes by means of a disguise, and not only pardons all the conspirators, but rewards Vitellia with his hand. The opera was produced at Prague on the 6th of September, 1791, and the cold reception which it experienced did much to embitter the closing years of Mozart's life.
'Die Zauberflöte,' his last work, was written before 'La Clemenza di Tito,' though not actually produced until September 30, 1791. The libretto, which was the work of Emanuel Schikaneder, is surely the most extraordinary that ever mortal composer was called upon to set.
At the opening of the opera, the Prince Tamino rushes in, pursued by a monstrous serpent, and sinks exhausted on the steps of a temple, from which three ladies issue in the nick of time and despatch the serpent with their silver spears. They give Tamino a portrait of Pamina, the daughter of their mistress, the Queen of Night, which immediately inspires him with passionate devotion. He is informed that Pamina has been stolen by Sarastro, the high-priest of Isis, and imprisoned by him in his palace. He vows to rescue her, and for that purpose is presented by the ladies with a magic flute, which will keep him safe in every danger, while Papageno, a bird-catcher, who has been assigned to him as companion, receives a glockenspiel. Three genii are summoned to guide them, and the two champions thereupon proceed to Sarastro's palace. Tamino is refused admittance by the doorkeeper, but Papageno in some unexplained way contrives to get in, and persuades Pamina to escape with him. They fly, but are recaptured by Monostatos, a Moor, who has been appointed to keep watch over Pamina. Sarastro now appears, condemns Monostatos to the bastinado, and decrees that the two lovers shall undergo a period of probation in the sanctuary. In the second act the ordeal of silence is imposed upon Tamino. Pamina cannot understand his apparent coldness, and is inclined to listen to the counsels of her mother, who tries to induce her to murder Sarastro. The priest, however, convinces her of his beneficent intentions. The lovers go through the ordeals of fire and water successfully, and are happily married. The Queen of Night and her dark kingdom perish everlastingly, and the reign of peace and wisdom is universally established. The humours of Papageno in his search for a wife have nothing to do with the principal interest of the plot, but they serve as an acceptable contrast to the more serious scenes of the opera.
The libretto of the 'Die Zauberflöte' is usually spoken of as the climax of conceivable inanity, but the explanation of many of its absurdities seems to lie in the fact that it is an allegorical illustration of the struggles and final triumph of Freemasonry. Both Mozart and Schikaneder were Freemasons, and 'Die Zauberflöte' is in a sense a manifesto of their belief. Freemasonry in the opera is represented by the mysteries of Isis, over which the high-priest Sarastro presides. The Queen of Night is Maria Theresa, a sworn opponent of Freemasonry, who interdicted its practice throughout her dominions, and broke up the Lodges with armed force. Tamino may be intended for the Emperor Joseph II., who, though not a Freemason himself as his father was, openly protected the brotherhood; and we may look upon Pamina as the representative of the Austrian people. The name of Monostatos seems to be connected with monasticism, and may be intended to typify the clerical party, which, though outwardly on friendly terms with Freemasonry, seems in reality to have been bent upon its destruction. Papageno and his wife Papagena are excellent representatives of the light-hearted and pleasure-loving population of Vienna. It is difficult to make any explanation fit the story very perfectly, but the suggestion of Freemasonry is enough to acquit Mozart of having allied his music to mere balderdash; while, behind the Masonic business, the discerning hearer will have no difficulty in distinguishing the shadowy outlines of another and a far nobler allegory, the ascent of the human soul, purified by suffering and love, to the highest wisdom. It was this, no doubt, that compelled Goethe's often expressed admiration, and even tempted him to write a sequel to Schikaneder's libretto. 'Die Zauberflöte' is in form a Singsgiel—that is to say, the music is interspersed with spoken dialogue—but there the resemblance to Hiller's creations ceases. From the magnificent fugue in the overture to the majestic choral finale, the music is an astonishing combination of divinely beautiful melody with marvels of contrapuntal skill. Perhaps the most surprising part of 'Die Zauberflöte' is the extraordinary ease and certainty with which Mozart manipulates what is practically a new form of art. Nursed as he had been in the traditions of Italian opera, it would not have been strange if he had not been able to shake off the influences of his youth. Yet 'Die Zauberflöte' owes but little to any Italian predecessor. It is German to the core. We may be able to point to passages which are a development of something occurring in the composer's earlier works, such as 'Die Entführung,' but there is hardly anything in the score of 'Die Zauberflöte' which suggests an external influence. Its position in the world of music is ably summarised by Jahn: 'If in his Italian operas Mozart assimilated the traditions of a long period of development and in some sense put the finishing stroke to it, with "Die Zauberflöte" he treads on the threshold of the future, and unlocks for his country the sacred treasure of national art.'
Of Mozart's work as a whole, it is impossible to speak save in terms which seem exaggerated. His influence upon subsequent composers cannot be over-estimated. Without him, Rossini and modern Italian opera, Weber and modern German, Gounod and modern French, would have been impossible. It may be conceded that the form of his operas, with the alternation of airs, concerted pieces and recitativo secco, may conceivably strike the ears of the uneducated as old-fashioned, but the feelings of musicians may best be summed up in the word of Gounod: 'O Mozart, divin Mozart! Qu'il faut peu te comprendre pour ne pas t'adorer! Toi, la vérité constante! Toi, la beauté parfaite! Toi, le charme inépuisable! Toi, toujours profond et toujours limpide! Toi, l'humanité complète et la simplicité de l'enfant! Toi, qui as tout ressenti, et tout exprimé dans une langue musicale qu'on n'a jamais surpassée et qu'on ne surpassera jamais.'
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