Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was an Italian Baroque musical composer, virtuoso violinist and priest. Born in Venice, the capital of the Venetian Republic, he is regarded as one of the greatest Baroque composers, his influence during his lifetime was widespread across Europe, he composed many instrumental concertos, for the violin and a variety of other instruments, as well as sacred choral works and more than forty operas. His best-known work is a series of violin concertos known as the Four Seasons. Many of his compositions were written for the all-female music ensemble of the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned children. Vivaldi had worked there as a Catholic priest for 1 1/2 years and was employed there from 1703 to 1715 and from 1723 to 1740. Vivaldi had some success with expensive stagings of his operas in Venice and Vienna. After meeting the Emperor Charles VI, Vivaldi moved to Vienna. However, the Emperor died soon after Vivaldi's arrival, Vivaldi himself died, in poverty, less than a year later.
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born on 4 March 1678 in Venice the capital of the Venetian Republic. He was baptized after his birth at his home by the midwife, which led to a belief that his life was somehow in danger. Though the reasons for the child's immediate baptism are not known for certain, it was done most due either to his poor health or to an earthquake that shook the city that day. In the trauma of the earthquake, Vivaldi's mother may have dedicated him to the priesthood; the ceremonies, omitted were supplied two months later. Vivaldi's parents were Giovanni Battista Vivaldi and Camilla Calicchio, as recorded in the register of San Giovanni in Bragora. Vivaldi had eight siblings: Iseppo Santo Vivaldi, Iseppo Gaetano Vivaldi, Bonaventura Tomaso Vivaldi, Margarita Gabriela Vivaldi, Cecilia Maria Vivaldi, Gerolama Michela Vivaldi, Francesco Gaetano Vivaldi, Zanetta Anna Vivaldi. Giovanni Battista, a barber before becoming a professional violinist, taught Antonio to play the violin and toured Venice playing the violin with his young son.
Antonio was taught at an early age, judging by the extensive musical knowledge he had acquired by the age of 24, when he started working at the Ospedale della Pietà. Giovanni Battista was one of the founders of the Sovvegno dei musicisti di Santa Cecilia, an association of musicians; the president of the Sovvegno was Giovanni Legrenzi, an early Baroque composer and the maestro di cappella at St Mark's Basilica. It is possible; the Luxembourg scholar Walter Kolneder has discerned the influence of Legrenzi's style in Vivaldi's early liturgical work Laetatus sum, written in 1691 at the age of thirteen. Vivaldi's father may have been a composer himself: in 1689, an opera titled La Fedeltà sfortunata was composed by a Giovanni Battista Rossi—the name under which Vivaldi's father had joined the Sovvegno di Santa Cecilia. Vivaldi's health was problematic. One of his symptoms, strettezza di petto, has been interpreted as a form of asthma; this did not prevent him from learning to play the violin, composing, or taking part in musical activities, although it did stop him from playing wind instruments.
In 1693, at the age of fifteen, he began studying to become a priest. He was ordained in 1703, aged 25, was soon nicknamed il Prete Rosso, "The Red Priest". Not long after his ordination, in 1704, he was given a dispensation from celebrating Mass because of his ill health. Vivaldi said Mass as a priest only a few times, appeared to have withdrawn from liturgical duties, though he formally remained a member of the priesthood, he remained committed to Catholicism, to the extent that by old age, Ernst Ludwig Gerber considered him extraordinarily bigoted. In September 1703, Vivaldi became maestro di violino at an orphanage called the Pio Ospedale della Pietà in Venice. While Vivaldi is most famous as a composer, he was regarded as an exceptional technical violinist as well; the German architect Johann Friedrich Armand von Uffenbach referred to Vivaldi as "the famous composer and violinist" and said that "Vivaldi played a solo accompaniment excellently, at the conclusion he added a free fantasy which astounded me, for it is hardly possible that anyone has played, or will play, in such a fashion."
Vivaldi was only 25. Over the next thirty years he composed most of his major works while working there. There were four similar institutions in Venice, they were financed by funds provided by the Republic. The boys had to leave when they reached the age of fifteen; the girls received a musical education, the most talented among them stayed and became members of the Ospedale's renowned orchestra and choir. Shortly after Vivaldi's appointment, the orphans began to gain appreciation and esteem too. Vivaldi wrote concertos and sacred vocal music for them; these sacred works, which number over 60, are varied: they included solo motets and large-scale choral works for soloists, double chorus, orchestra. In 1704, the position of teacher of viola all'inglese was added to his duties as violin instructor; the position of maestro di coro, at one time filled by Vivaldi, required a lot of time and work. He had to compose an oratorio or concerto at every feast
Die Liebe der Danae
Die Liebe der Danae is an opera in three acts by Richard Strauss to a February 1937 German libretto by Joseph Gregor, based on an outline written in 1920, "Danae, or The Marriage of Convenience", by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Strauss worked on the score in 1937, 1938 and into 1939, although he was pre-occupied with completing Daphne, developing ideas with Gregor and replacing him as librettist for Capriccio, succumbed to illness, which caused postponement for several months into 1940; the opera was finished on 28 June 1940. However, for a variety of reasons including Strauss' perception that the failure of Die Frau ohne Schatten, as he put it, was caused by having been "put on in German theatres too soon after the last war", the composer refused to allow Clemens Krauss, to whom he had guaranteed the right to conduct the first performances, to stage it until two years after the war; the opera is an ingenious mixture of comedy and Greek mythology and the final act "contains the opera's finest music, a fact recognized by Strauss."
Contradicting his original refusal to allow the first performance until after the war, it appears that Strauss had granted to Clemens Krauss as early as November 1942 permission to perform the opera as part of the Salzburg Festival. In a letter to the composer, Krauss states that "I shall bring the work to its first performance in celebration of your 80th birthday" which would take place on 11 June 1944. Arrangements were made for mid-August performances in 1944, following the 20 July plot to assassinate Hitler, Joseph Goebbels declared "total war" and closed all theatres within the Third Reich, resulting in the work not being allowed a public staging; the Nazis did however permit a single dress rehearsal in Salzburg, conducted by Clemens Krauss on 16 August, in order that Strauss and an invited audience could hear the work performed. During an orchestral rehearsal before the private presentation, Strauss walked down to the orchestral rail in order to listen to the beautiful final interlude in the last act.
Rudolf Hartmann, the opera's original producer, wrote of the incident: Towards the end of the second scene Strauss stood up and went down to the front row of stalls. His unmistakeable head stood out in lonely silhouette against the light rising from the pit; the Viennese were playing the wonderful interlude before the last scene with an unsurpassably beautiful sound. Quite immobile oblivious to all else, he stood listening. Hartmann went on to describe how, as the performance continued, those who witnessed the scene, profoundly moved and stirred to our depths, sensed the physical presence of our divinity, art... Several moments of profound silence followed after the last notes died away... Kraus spoke a few sentences outlining the significance of these last days in Salzburg. Strauss looked over the rail of the pit, raised his hands in a gesture of gratitude and spoke to the orchestra in a voice choked with tears:'Perhaps we shall meet again in a better world', he was unable to say any more... Silent and moved, everyone present remained still as he left the auditorium.
In more recent years, the work has received only sporadic performances on account of its considerable vocal demands and the complexity of its stage directions. Strauss connoisseurs tend to have a special regard for the work; the eminent critic and Strauss biographer, Michael Kennedy, has written: The treatment of the many themes and motifs is amazingly inventive, the orchestral colours glow and shine – with Greek gold and mediterranean sunlight... Die Liebe der Danae does not deserve its neglect, its third act alone lifts it into the category of first-rank Strauss. The first public performance under Krauss, was at the Kleines Festspielhaus during the Salzburg Festival on 14 August 1952, after Strauss' death in 1949, it was given at the Royal Opera House in London on 16 September 1953, under Rudolf Kempe. The first American performance was at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles on 10 April 1964, it was given as part of the 1982 and 1985 summer festival seasons by The Santa Fe Opera conducted by company founder and lifelong Strauss enthusiast John Crosby.
The Semperoper in Dresden gave three performances of the opera in March 2009. In 2006 Renée Fleming recorded the final interlude and Danae's aria from act 3 with the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre conducted by Valery Gergiev for a Decca CD entitled Homage: The Age of the Diva; the Bard SummerScape Festival mounted a new production of the full opera in 2011 with Meagan Miller in the title role, with the American Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leon Botstein and directed by Kevin Newbury. Danae, whose father King Pollux is bankrupt and beset by creditors, dreams of a wealthy husband in terms of a shower of golden rain. Royal envoys return with news that Midas, who can turn all to gold, has agreed to woo Danae, his arrival at the harbour is announced. Danae receives a stranger, Midas in disguise as his own servant. Strangely drawn to each other, they proceed to the harbour where the supposed King Midas greets Danae. Jupiter prepares for his marriage to Danae but, fearing discovery by his wife Juno, forces Midas to deputise for him at the ceremony.
When Danae and Midas embrace, she is turned into a golden statue and Jupiter claims her as his divine bride. However her voice calls for the mortal Midas, she is returned to life, the lovers disappear into the darkness. Jupiter announces. Midas, returned to his former existence as a donkey-driver, reveals to Danae his broken pact with Jupi
An opera house is a theatre building used for opera performances that consists of a stage, an orchestra pit, audience seating, backstage facilities for costumes and set building. While some venues are constructed for operas, other opera houses are part of larger performing arts centers. Indeed the term opera house itself is used as a term of prestige for any large performing-arts center; the first public opera house was the Teatro San Cassiano in Venice, opened in 1637. Italy is a country where opera has been popular through the centuries among ordinary people as well as wealthy patrons and it continues to have a large number of working opera houses such as Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Teatro di San Carlo in Naples and Teatro La Scala in Milan. In contrast, there was no opera house in London when Henry Purcell was composing and the first opera house in Germany was built in Hamburg in 1678. In the 17th and 18th centuries, opera houses were financed by rulers and wealthy people who used patronage of the arts to endorse their political ambition and social position.
With the rise of bourgeois and capitalist social forms in the 19th century, European culture moved away from its patronage system to a publicly supported system. Early United States opera houses served a variety of functions in towns and cities, hosting community dances, fairs and vaudeville shows as well as operas and other musical events. In the 2000s, most opera and theatre companies are supported by funds from a combination of government and institutional grants, ticket sales, private donations; the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, opened in 1737, introduced the horseshoe-shaped auditorium, the oldest in the world, a model for the Italian theater. On this model were built subsequent theaters in Italy and Europe, among others, the court theater of the Palace of Caserta, which became the model for other theaters. Given the popularity of opera in 18th and 19th century Europe, opera houses are large containing more than 1,000 seats. Traditionally, Europe's major opera houses built in the 19th century contained between about 1,500 to 3,000 seats, examples being Brussels' La Monnaie, Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater, Warsaw's Grand Theatre, Paris' Palais Garnier, the Royal Opera House in London and the Vienna State Opera.
Modern opera houses of the 20th century such as New York's Metropolitan Opera House and the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco are larger. Many operas are better suited to being presented in smaller theaters, such as Venice's La Fenice with about 1,000 seats. In a traditional opera house, the auditorium is U-shaped, with the length of the sides determining the audience capacity. Around this are tiers of balconies, nearer to the stage, are boxes. Since the latter part of the 19th century, opera houses have an orchestra pit, where a large number of orchestra players may be seated at a level below the audience, so that they can play without overwhelming the singing voices; this is true of Wagner's Bayreuth Festspielhaus where the pit is covered. The size of an opera orchestra varies, but for some operas and other works, it may be large. An opera may have a large cast of characters, chorus and supernumeraries. Therefore, a major opera house will have extensive dressing room facilities. Opera houses have on-premises set and costume building shops and facilities for storage of costumes, make-up, stage properties, may have rehearsal spaces.
Major opera houses throughout the world have mechanized stages, with large stage elevators permitting heavy sets to be changed rapidly. At the Metropolitan Opera, for instance, sets are changed during the action, as the audience watches, with singers rising or descending as they sing; this occurs in Tales of Hoffman. London's Royal Opera House, remodeled in the late 1990s, retained the original 1858 auditorium at its core, but added new backstage and wing spaces as well as an additional performance space and public areas. Much the same happened in the remodeling of Milan's La Scala opera house between 2002 and 2004. Although stage and other production aspects of opera houses make use of the latest technology, traditional opera houses have not used sound reinforcement systems with microphones and loudspeakers to amplify the singers, since trained opera singers are able to project their unamplified voices in the hall. Since the 1990s, some opera houses have begun using a subtle form of sound reinforcement called acoustic enhancement.
Operas are presented in their original languages, which may be different from the first language of the audience. For example, a Wagnerian opera presented in London may be in German. Therefore, since the 1980s modern opera houses have assisted the audience by providing translated supertitles, projections of the words above or near to the stage. More electronic libretto systems have begun to be used in some opera houses, including New York's Metropolitan Opera, Milan's La Scala, the Crosby Theatre of The Santa Fe Opera, which provide two lines of text on individual screens attached to the backs of the seats so as to not interfere with the visual aspects of the performance. A subtle type of sound reinforcement called acoustic enhancement is used in some opera hou
Così fan tutte
Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti, K. 588, is an Italian-language opera buffa in two acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart first performed on 26 January 1790 at the Burgtheater in Vienna, Austria. The libretto was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte who wrote Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni. Although it is held that Così fan tutte was written and composed at the suggestion of the Emperor Joseph II, recent research does not support this idea. There is evidence that Mozart's contemporary Antonio Salieri tried to set the libretto but left it unfinished. In 1994, John Rice uncovered two terzetti by Salieri in the Austrian National Library; the short title, Così fan tutte means "So do they all", using the feminine plural to indicate women. It is translated into English as "Women are like that"; the words are sung by the three men in scene 13, just before the finale. Da Ponte had used the line "Così fan tutte le belle" earlier in Le nozze di Figaro; the first performance of Mozart's setting took place at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 26 January 1790.
It was given only five times before the run was stopped by the death of the Emperor Joseph II and the resulting period of court mourning. It was performed twice in June 1790 with the composer conducting the second performance, again in July and August. After that it was not performed in Vienna during Mozart's lifetime; the first British performance was in May 1811 at London. Così fan tutte was not performed in the U. S. until 1922, when it was given at the Metropolitan Opera. According to William Mann, Mozart disliked prima donna Adriana Ferrarese del Bene, da Ponte's arrogant mistress for whom the role of Fiordiligi had been created. Knowing her idiosyncratic tendency to drop her chin on low notes and throw back her head on high ones, Mozart filled her showpiece aria Come scoglio with constant leaps from low to high and high to low in order to make Ferrarese's head "bob like a chicken" onstage; the subject-matter did not offend Viennese sensibilities of the time, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries was considered risqué, immoral.
The opera was performed, when it did appear it was presented in one of several bowdlerised versions. After World War II it regained a place in the standard operatic repertoire and is now performed. While the use of modern fach titles and voice categories for these roles has become customary, Mozart was far more general in his own descriptions of the voice types: Fiordiligi, Guglielmo, Ferrando and Don Alfonso; these modern voice types are varied in performance practice. Don Alfonso is performed by baritones such as Thomas Allen and Bo Skovhus and Dorabella is always performed by a mezzo-soprano. In the ensembles, Guglielmo's music lies lower than Alfonso's, accordingly has been performed by basses such as James Morris and Wladimiro Ganzarolli, Despina is performed by a mezzo, such as Cecilia Bartoli, Frederica von Stade, Agnes Baltsa and Ann Murray. Ferrando and Fiordiligi, can only be sung by a tenor and a soprano because of the high tessitura of their roles; the instrumentation is as follows: Woodwinds: 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons.
Fiordiligi's aria "Per pietà, ben mio, perdona", act 2, contains a rare instance of clarinets in B-natural. Score. In most modern editions this is made into a part for A clarinets; the NMA keeps the notation for the B clarinet. There is evidence that some of the clarinet writing was intended for basset clarinet due to its low range. Brass: 2 horns, 2 trumpets. Percussion: 2 timpani – an additional military drum is used on stage. Strings: first violins, second violins, violoncellos, double basses. Basso continuo in secco recitatives of harpsichord and violoncello. Mozart and Da Ponte use the theme of "fiancée swapping". Elements from Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew are present. Furthermore, it incorporates elements of the myth of Procris. Place: Naples Time: the 18th century Scene 1: A coffeehouse In a cafe and Guglielmo express certainty that their fiancées will be eternally faithful. Don Alfonso expresses skepticism and claims, he lays a wager with the two officers, claiming he can prove in a day's time that those two, like all women, are fickle.
The wager is accepted: the two officers will pretend to have been called off to war. The scene shifts to the two women. Alfonso arrives to announce the bad news: the officers have been called off to war. Ferrando and Guglielmo arrive and bid farewell; as the boat with the men sails off to sea and the sisters wish them safe travel. Alfonso, left alone, gloatingly predicts that the women
Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti was an Italian composer. Along with Gioachino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini, Donizetti was a leading composer of the bel canto opera style during the first half of the nineteenth century. Donizetti's close association with the bel canto style was undoubtedly an influence on other composers such as Giuseppe Verdi. Donizetti was born in Bergamo in Lombardy. Although he did not come from a musical background, at an early age he was taken under the wing of composer Simon Mayr who had enrolled him by means of a full scholarship in a school which he had set up. There he received detailed training in the arts of counterpoint. Mayr was instrumental in obtaining a place for the young man at the Bologna Academy, where, at the age of 19, he wrote his first one-act opera, the comedy Il Pigmalione, which may never have been performed during his lifetime. Over the course of his career, Donizetti wrote 70 operas. An offer in 1822 from Domenico Barbaja, the impresario of the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, which followed the composer's ninth opera, led to his move to that city and his residency there which lasted until the production of Caterina Cornaro in January 1844.
In all, Naples presented 51 of Donizetti's operas. Before 1830, success came with his comic operas, the serious ones failing to attract significant audiences. However, his first notable success came with an opera seria, Zoraida di Granata, presented in 1822 in Rome. In 1830, when Anna Bolena was premiered, Donizetti made a major impact on the Italian and international opera scene and this shifted the balance of success away from comedic operas, although after that date, his best-known works included comedies such as L'elisir d'amore and Don Pasquale. Significant historical dramas did succeed. Up to that point, all of his operas had been set to Italian libretti. Donizetti found himself chafing against the censorship limitations which existed in Italy. From about 1836, he became interested in working in Paris, where he saw much greater freedom to choose subject matter, in addition to receiving larger fees and greater prestige. Starting in 1838 with an offer from the Paris Opéra for two new works, he spent a considerable part of the following ten years in that city, set several operas to French texts as well as overseeing staging of his Italian works.
The first opera was a French version of the then-unperformed Poliuto which, in April 1840, was revised to become Les martyrs. Two new operas were given in Paris at that time; as the 1840s progressed, Donizetti moved between Naples, Rome and Vienna, continuing to compose and stage his own operas as well as those of other composers. But from around 1843, severe illness began to limit his activities. By early 1846 he was obliged to be confined to an institution for the mentally ill and, by late 1847, friends had him moved back to Bergamo, where he died in April 1848; the youngest of three sons, Donizetti was born in 1797 in Bergamo's Borgo Canale quarter, located just outside the city walls. His family was poor and had no tradition of music, his father Andrea being the caretaker of the town pawnshop. Simone Mayr, a German composer of internationally successful operas, had become maestro di cappella at Bergamo's principal church in 1802, he founded the Lezioni Caritatevoli school in Bergamo in 1805 for the purpose of providing musical training, including classes in literature, beyond what choirboys ordinarily received up until the time that their voices broke.
In 1807, Andrea Donizetti attempted to enroll both his sons, but the elder, was considered too old. Gaetano was accepted. While not successful as a choirboy during the first three trial months of 1807, Mayr was soon reporting that Gaetano "surpasses all the others in musical progress" and he was able to persuade the authorities that the young boy's talents were worthy of keeping him in the school, he remained there for nine years, until 1815. However, as Donizetti scholar William Ashbrook notes, in 1809 he was threatened with having to leave because his voice was changing. In 1810 he applied for and was accepted by the local art school, the Academia Carrara, but it is not known whether he attended classes. In 1811, Mayr once again intervened. Having written both libretto and music for a "pasticcio-farsa", Il piccolo compositore di musica, as the final concert of the academic year, Mayr cast five young students, among them his young pupil Donizetti as "the little composer"; as Ashbrook states, this "was nothing less than Mayr's argument that Donizetti be allowed to continue his musical studies".
The piece was performed on 13 September 1811 and included the composer character stating the following: Ah, by Bacchus, with this aria / I'll have universal applause. / They'll say to me, "Bravo, Maestro! / I, with a sufficiently modest air, / Will go around with my head bent... / I’ll have eulogies in the newspaper / I know how to make myself immortal. In reply to the chiding which comes from the other four characters in the piece after the "little composer"'s boasts, in the drama the "composer" responds with: I have a vast mind, swift talent, ready fantasy—and I'm a thunderbolt at composing; the performance included a waltz which Donizetti played and for which he received credit in the libretto. In singing this piece, all five young me
Richard Reid Ingrams is an English journalist, a co-founder and second editor of the British satirical magazine Private Eye, founding editor of The Oldie magazine. He left the latter job at the end of May 2014. Ingrams's parents, who had three other sons including the banker and opera impresario Leonard Ingrams, were Leonard St Clair Ingrams, O. B. E. an investment banker from a clergy family, who worked as a government official in propaganda, economic warfare and the secret services during World War II, Victoria, the daughter of Sir James Reid, private physician to Queen Victoria. Through his maternal grandmother and her ties to the Baring family, Ingrams is a direct descendant of the 19th-century prime minister Earl Grey. Ingrams was educated at the independent preparatory school West Downs in Winchester, followed by Shrewsbury School, where he met Willie Rushton and edited the school magazine. Before attending Oxford, he did his National Service in the army ranks after failing his interview for officer training, something, unusual for someone from his background at the time.
At University College, where he read Classics, he shared tutorials with Robin Butler Cabinet Secretary and sometimes referred to as a "pillar of the Establishment". More he met Paul Foot, another former Shrewsbury pupil not yet the left-wing radical he became, to be a lifelong friend, whose biography Ingrams wrote after Foot's death. Along with several other Old Salopians, including Willie Rushton, Ingrams founded Private Eye in 1962, taking over the editorship from Christopher Booker in 1963, it was a classic case, he claimed on Desert Island Discs in 2008, of the "old boy network". Private Eye was part of the satire boom of the early 1960s, which included the television show That Was The Week That Was, for which Ingrams wrote, The Establishment nightclub, run by Peter Cook; when Private Eye ran into financial problems Cook was able to gain a majority shareholding on the proceeds of his brief but financially successful venture. Ingrams vacated the editor's chair at the Eye with Ian Hislop taking over.
In 1992 Ingrams created and became editor of The Oldie, a now monthly humorous lifestyle and issues magazine aimed at the older generation. As of 2005 he was still chairman of Private Eye, working there every Monday, spending four days a week in London, he was television critic for The Spectator from 1976 to 1984, though he showed much enthusiasm for the medium. He was a regular on the radio panel quiz The News Quiz for its first twenty years and contributed a column to The Observer for eighteen years. In late 2005 he moved to The Independent, considering The Observer to have gone downhill as a consequence of its support for the Iraq war. In his 27 August 2011 column, he announced that he had been sacked by the newly appointed editor of The Independent. Shortly after the death of Jimmy Savile, because several national newspapers were unwilling to publish, Ingrams' The Oldie was the first publication to break the story of Savile's history of child abuse. After a series of clashes with James Pembroke and publisher of The Oldie, Ingrams left the magazine at the end of May 2014 having resigned as editor.
His most recent book is a biography of Ludovic Kennedy. Ingrams married Mary Morgan on 24 November 1962. By 1993 Ingrams had become involved with Deborah Bosley, a former head waitress at the Groucho Club and an author. In 1996 they split during which time Bosley had an affair and became pregnant, causing a scandal. Ingrams played the organ for many years in his local Anglican church in Aldworth, each Sunday; the Romney Marsh Historic Churches Trust was formed under the patronage of Ingrams and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie. In 2011 he announced. Ingrams lives in Berkshire with his wife Sara, a medical researcher, his sister-in-law was 18th Baroness Darcy de Knayth. A biography, Richard Ingrams: Lord of the Gnomes by Harry Thompson, was published in 1994. Richard Ingrams interview
Emanuel Schikaneder, born Johann Joseph Schickeneder, was a German impresario, actor and composer. He wrote the libretto of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera The Magic Flute and was the builder of the Theater an der Wien. Peter Branscombe called him "one of the most talented theatre men of his era". Schikaneder was born in Straubing in Bavaria to Juliana Schiessl. Both of his parents worked as domestic servants and were poor, they had a total of four children: Urban, Johann Joseph and Maria. Schikaneder's father died shortly after Maria's birth, at which time his mother returned to Regensburg, making a living selling religious articles from a wooden shed adjacent to the local cathedral. Schikaneder received his education at a Jesuit school in Regensburg as well as training in the local cathedral as a singer; as a young adult he began to pursue his career in the theater, appearing with Andreas Schopf's theatrical troupe around 1773 and performing opera and Singspiel. Schikaneder danced at a court ballet in Innsbruck in 1774, the following year his Singspiel Die Lyranten was debuted there.
This was a great success, was performed in the following years. Schikaneder was the librettist and principal singer, a versatility he would continue to exhibit throughout his career. In the fall of 1780, the Schikaneder troupe made an extended stay in Salzburg, at that time Schikaneder became a family friend of the Mozarts; the Mozart family at the time consisted of father Leopold and Wolfgang. The Mozarts "rarely missed his shows", invited Schikaneder to Sunday sessions of Bölzlschiessen, their favorite family sport; as Mozart was about to depart Salzburg for the premiere in Munich of his opera Idomeneo, he promised before leaving to write "Wie grausam ist, o Liebe... Die neugeborne Ros' entzückt", a recitative and aria for Schikaneder; the composition was intended for Schikaneder's production of Die zwey schlaflosen Nächte by August Werthes. From November 1784 to February 1785, Schikaneder collaborated with theater director Hubert Kumpf for a series of performances at the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna.
He had been invited to do so by the Emperor Joseph II, who had seen him perform the previous year in Pressburg. The Vienna run was admired by critics and attracted large audiences including the Emperor and his court. Schikaneder and Kumpf opened their season with a revival of Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Joseph Haydn's La fedeltà premiata was performed by the troupe. Works of spoken drama were of interest for their political content; the Austrian Empire at the time was governed by the system of hereditary aristocracy, falling under increasing criticism as the values of the Enlightenment spread. Schikaneder put on a successful comedy entitled Der Fremde which included a character named Baron Seltenreich, "a caricature of a scheming windbag of the Viennese aristocracy". Schikaneder and his colleague stepped over the line, initiating a production of Beaumarchais' then-scandalous send-up of the aristocracy, The Marriage of Figaro; this production was canceled by the Emperor at the last minute.
In spite of the content and cancellation of the production, Joseph II brought Schikaneder over and he entered Imperial service from April 1785 through February 1786. During his service, he performed in the Austrian Nationaltheater at Burgtheater. During his debut he sang the role of Schwindel in Gluck's Singspiel Die Pilgrime von Mekka. During Easter 1788, the troupe run by Johann Friedel and Eleonore Schikaneder had settled as the resident troupe at the Theater auf der Wieden, located in a suburb of Vienna. Friedel died on 31 March 1789, leaving his entire estate to Eleonore, the theater was closed. Following this, Eleonore offered reconciliation to Schikaneder, who moved to Vienna in May to start a new company in the same theater in partnership with her; the new company was financed by a Masonic brother of Mozart. With plans of an emphasis on opera, Schikaneder brought two singers with him from his old troupe, tenor Benedikt Schack and bass Franz Xaver Gerl. From his wife's company he retained soprano Josepha Hofer, actor Johann Joseph Nouseul, Karl Ludwig Giesecke as librettist.
New additions to the troupe included Jakob Haibel. The new company was successful, Die Entführung aus dem Serail again became part of the repertory. Several aspects of the company's work emerged that came to be immortalized in The Magic Flute. A series of musical comedies starting with Der Dumme Gärtner aus dem Gebirge, oder Die zween Antons, premiered in July 1789; the comedy provided a vehicle for Schikaneder's comic stage persona. Another line of performances by the company involved fairy tale operas, starting with the 1789 premiere of Oberon, with music by Paul Wranitzky and a libretto, a readaptation of Sophie Seyler's original libretto; this was followed by Der Stein der Weisen oder Die Zauberinsel in September 1790, a collaborative opera marked by the musical collaboration of Gerl, Schack and Mozart. In a review of a performance at the Theater auf der Wieden by a north German commentator in 1793, most contemporary reviews were positive, noting a high standard of musical performance. In his unpublished autobiography, Ignaz von Seyfried recalled performances of operas in the early 1790s by Mozart, Süßmayr, Hoffmeister etc. writing that they were performed with rare skill.
Seyfried describes Kapellmeister Henneberg conducting the