Mozart’s Idyll

It’s difficult to mention the titles of all of Mozarts’ works that have become known through the repertory of the Opera Circle. So I will content myself with mentioning only numbers: Bastien and Bastienne is the seventh premiere of a Mozart opera by the Polish troupe based in Cleveland.

Mozart created twenty scenic-vocal works, which, considering his short life, barely 35 years, was a great achievement. He composed his first opera at the age of 10. Bastien and Bastienne was created when this talented child was only twelve years old.

The works of young Wolfgang exhibit a great maturity, musically speaking, with an astonishing beauty. They are full of noble simplicity, lightness, and wisdom in the musical illustration of distinct types of figures.

During a certain period, there reigned the view among music lovers that music was the result of artists expressing themselves in the supernatural „language of God”. In this interpretation of music, the composer was unusually essential, chosen by the Creator as an intermediary between God and people, linking heaven and earth.

However, genius and the anointing of talent does not mean a lack of suffering. Mozart was a master in this area, too, and he experienced many reversals of fortune, such as illness, intrigues, straitened circumstances, ending in an early death in isolation from those to whom he was most close, including his wife.

In 1768 twenty-year-old Mozart received an order from a  famous Viennese doctor for the composition of a comic opera to the libretto by Friedrich Weiskern. The pastoral story mixes irony  and bucolic sentimentality. There is the love between two young people, but in a moment of crisis separation threatens the two lovers. The young shepherdess Bastienne suffers to the point of pain, because her beloved Bastien, tempted by a rich young aristocratic woman, has seemingly forgotten about her. The abandoned girl runs to Colas, the old fortuneteller in the neighborhood; people believe that his magic helps in affairs of the heart. The girl tells the magic man of her heartbreak and asks for advice. Colas tells her she should not show Bastienne that she is in despair. On the contrary, she must be happy and coquettish, even turn her attention to other boys. The awakening of jealousy is an unfailing way to return feeling, if it is real and deep.

When Colas next meets with Bastien, he tells him that Bastienne has fallen in love again. He suggests a magical ceremony and incantation that aids in the return of love. Shortly after, the shepherdess and her lover meet as if by chance in the same place. Seeing each other, they pretend complete indifference. This does not last long, as their love returns and they fall into each other’s arms. The magic worked. The opera concludes with a tercet glorifying the efforts of the magic maker Colas. Bastien does not figure out that Colas, not the strength of the magic, caused such a change in affairs.

Bastien i Bastienne has been in the repertory of European theaters since 1890.

There is a joke about the great Mozart. In heaven, the compositions of Jan Sebastian Bach are obligatory. But if the Highest Power fails to pay attention even for a moment and doesn’t turn their way, the the angels play Mozart. Surely the angels most enjoy Mozart’s youthful creations.

Opera Circle, so experienced in presenting Mozart’s operas, will no doubt achieve expected success again with Bastien i Bastienne.
Come with your families and friends to Bastien and Bastienne at St. Stanisław’s Church on Friday, January 26th and Saturday, January 27th at 7:30 p.m. One of the greatest pleasures flowing from music is this that we can teach others how to love it.

Dr Elżbieta Ulanowska

Forum, 1/2007

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