Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Salzburg, 1756 – Vienna, 1791

Even before reaching adulthood, Mozart had already made his opera debut with the Latin intermezzo Apollo and Hyacinth (1767), followed by the opera buffa The Pretended Simpleton (1769). With his prodigious ability for assimilation, he put the music he heard during his European tours to good use. In Milan, he composed his first opera seria, Mitridate (1770), which was a great success and led to the commission of a second opera seria, Lucio Silla (1772). In 1775, at only twenty years of age but already demonstrating great maturity, Mozart received a commission from Munich (the opera buffa The Pretended Gardener), and another from Salzburg (The Shepherd King). In Munich once again, he presented a new opera seria, Idomeneo, King of Crete (1781). His first major commission after having resigned from his position of court musician was the singspiel The Abduction from the Seraglio (1782), a genre that dared to combine elements of opera seria, opéra-comique, and opera buffa. This blend of styles is in fact one of the characteristics of Mozart’s genius—one that he would not hesitate to introduce into his future works, using comic elements in his serious work, or vice-versa. The Abduction from the Seraglio, through its language and the way it is crafted, also bears witness to one of Mozart’s main concerns: to create an opera in German. Shortly thereafter, he met the scandalous librettist da Ponte—nevertheless the most sought-after of the day—, which led to the creation of the three most important works in his opera catalogue: The Marriage of Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787), and Così fan tutte (1790). In the year of his death, he composed a densely symbolic work, The Magic Flute (1791), and, for the coronation of Emperor Leopold II as King of Bohemia, he produced his last opera, a return to the opera seria genre, The Clemency of Titus (1791). He died before completing a mysterious commission, the grandiose Requiem.