Mozart opera


Mozart - touring

born in Salzburg - him and his father (Leopold) worked here on the music staff for Prince Archbishop of Salzburg

child prodigy / composed at early age (over 600 works in his lifetime)

toured cities and courts of Europe showing off his musical talents - encouraged by his father

  • did this because of his father
  • exposed to huge range of music and styles
  • mostly influenced by Munich, Mannheim, Mainz, Frankfurt, Brussels, London and Paris 
  • tour of Italy (Vienna) in his teenage years led to composition of many operas, symphoniesand chamber music
  • since Italy, commisions of masses and anthems in Salzburg were boring for him
1 of 32

Mozart - Vienna


  • rich in culture 
  • lots of opera, churches and patrons 
  • (Holy Roman Emporer)
  • he however failed to get work and returned to Salzburg in 1773 - but soon left to get away from Prince Archbishop of Salzburg 
  • went to Munich to premiere his opera 'Idomeneo'
  • 1781- rejoined Prince Archbishop on their tour to Vienna but ended up arguing again - Mozart was terminated and never returned to Salzburg
  • whilst in Vienna however, Mozart made a number of new contacts AND became known as solo pianist
2 of 32

changes in Holy Roman Empire

Emporer of Joseph II:

  • was making reforms with aim of reducing power of church at the time
  • made the atmosphere of Vienna defined by entertainment and Enlightenment 
  • theatres flourised - the Emporer took over the central Burgtheater (in Vienna) himself employing Count Rosenberg as director - this theatre became a key part of Vienna culture 
  • insisted on German-language works
  • insisted on avoidance of opera seria
  • allowed 'theatre freedom' for new theatres outside the city walls - one run by Schikaneder of whom's productions Mozart would contributed some music - met later on to reproduce Mozart's 'Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail' which led to controversy - they were both 'maverick' in nature 

beneficial for Mozart:

  • had huge success with his Sinspeil 'Die Entfugrung aus dem Serail' which premiered at the Burgtheter.
  • it was Vienna where he established his reputation as successful composer.

post-death = the death of Joseph (succeeded by Leopld II) led Mozart and his wife into poverty 

3 of 32

slow start for Magic Flute

Mozart got back into earning money through his friend Benedikt Schack who was his first 'Tamino'

Schikaneder and co. provided Mozart with financial stability

worked in Freihaus

  • Mozart loved the company's approach to writing and producing
  • audiences were less pretentious
  • tickets were less expensive than for at the Burgtheater 


the duo (Mozart and Schikaneder) soon ran into financial problems 

their 'Die Zauberflote' premiered 30 September 1791

Mozart died 2 months later so never saw it's financial/artistic success

4 of 32

The Enlightenment

  • intellectual and philosophical movement in the 18th century 
  • saw reason as the primary source of authority/legitimacy
  • believed in liberty and progress 
  • encouraged the separation of church and state 

in the Magic Flute:

underneath the comic fairytale, their is a huge amount of symbolism to do with enlightenment 

Sarastro = representative of enlightenment as he rules according to principles based on reason / wisdom /nature

Tamino/Papageno's journey = symbol of journey from reigious superstition to rational enlightenment 

"the Earth a heavenly kingdom, and mortals likethe gods' ("Dann ist die Erd - ein Himmelreich, und Sterbliche den Gottern gleich") = aim of enlightenment 

5 of 32


  • Freemasons are part of a secret men's society 
  • Mozart and his father were both initiated 

in Magic Flute:

masonic themes are evident - good vs evil, enlightenment vs ignorance, virtues of knowledge/justice/wisdom/truth 

  • trials for Tamino to be worthy of Pamina = similiar to those found in Masonic initation 
  • worship of Egyptian gods = practice identified with Masonic tradition 
  • rule of 3; 3 ladies / boys / loud chords at start of overture / temples / knocks at temple / flats (Eflat major) = reflects the masonic number 

the opera is able to demonstrate Mozart's exquisite music and important symbols WHILST retaining Schikaneder's lighter comical libretto

6 of 32

Mozart - Classical Period

helped establish Classical style end of the 18th century (with Haydn and early Beethoven)

Classical Period: (main contributions)

  • development of symphony 
  • piano sonata / concerto
  • sonata form decline in counterpoint
  • opera

Other composers:

  • Beethoven - Mozart gave him some lessons in Vienna 
  • Haydn - friend of Mozart 

Changes to opera:

  • vernacular used 
  • variation of mood within arias - compared to Baroque static opera and da capo arias+solo recits
  • duets and larger ensemblesare more important - from only a few ensembles in Baroque 
7 of 32


first to write in vernacular for operas 

usually operas were Italien because of their invention in Italy at the start of the 17th century

all of Baroque era were written Italien e.g. Handel's

before Mozart's vernacular operas, the German and English people would simply have booklets containing the libretto

e.g. Mozart's 'Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail' was one of the first Classical operas in German.


despite this breakthrough, most of his later operas were written in Italien e.g. 'Le Nozze di Figaro'

8 of 32


= 'sing-play'

unlike most operas where all dialogue is sung, there is incorporation of spoken word (more like a modern musical)

typical styles = magic / comedy / exagerating sense of good and evil

contains simple ballads and songs 

unlike most opera where audiences included nobility and rich members of society, these were entertainment for the middle class

solo arias and ensemble numbers, with recit (opera seria) replaced by spoken dialogue - no acc

The Magic Flute:

took singspiels to new level - includes massive variation of styles = humour, magic, moving scenes, passion and excitement WHILST including serious themes from the Freemason movement - Magic Flute is argued to be singspiel in it's most sophiticated form 

9 of 32

'The Magic Flute' the opera

1791 - last year of his life 

Singspiel - German comic opera 

Highly sophisticated example of opera

first staged in Vienna - he conducted 

librettist = Emanuel Schikaneder - also sang role of Papageno

immediatly successful with 100s of performances 1790s - all over Europe + still performed today

  • connected with Freemason movement: (both Mozart + Schikaneder were freemasons)
    • reflects the Mason's moral aims; rational thinking, truth
    • uses tests for Tam+Pap to reflect complex initation into the society
    • use of '3' displayed in music
    • Queen = decieving evil of irrational religion 
    • Sarastro high preist = enlightened 

set in ancient Egypt - fairy-tale plot+philsophical ideas + psychological drama

10 of 32

SONORITY 'O zittre nicht'

coloratura soprano

  • impressive upper range revealed very gradually
  • up to an F in [Recit]
  • up to Ab in [Largo]
  • up to Bb in [Allegro moderato]

[coloratura section]

  • regular high notes (80-84)
  • extended melisma 
  • highest notes of Cs + Dbs + single top F (92)

2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns in Bb, strings

Queen's entrance = Queen, strings, 2 horns, 2 oboes

flutes, clarinets, trumpets, trombones, timpani ALL SILENT 

11 of 32

MELODY 'O zittre nicht'

more adventorous melodic style and rhythmic diversity (except from simple start to aria)

  • vocal:(coloratura - viruosic / fast notes / rapid scales / arpeggios / ornaments;runs/trills)
    • adventurous range - widens and becomes angular gradually 
    • syllabic recitative 
    • conjunct e.g. start of largo larghetto
    • 'trembling' passage (37-40) - tessitura widens
    • a few difficult leaps e.g. down an 11th from long/loud top F(anger) to cadentialC(+trill)(92-3)  e.g. rising diminished 5th 'Ach helft' (46-7)
    • striking descending chromatic passage (41-3) - Queen refers to Pamina's terror 
    • 'sighing' cadence (27) +G heard as part of chord Ic BUT actually appoggiatura over chord V
    • triadic shape+repeated tonic note to show clear change to Bb major (allegro moderato)(64-5)
    • occasional ornamentation e.g. grace notes (51) turns (67) chromatic appoggiaturas (76)
    • coloratura passage (84-92) : conjunct to start, highest notes contain triadic passages, virtuousic, 13-bar melisma
    • rising sequence (81)
  • instrumental:
    • repeated note accompaniment (68) - provides rhythmic motion and reinforced harmony without taking attention away from vocal melody
    • accompaniment not as free as in a secco recitative which has only continuo accompaniment 
12 of 32

STRUCTURE + TONALITY 'O zittre nicht'

Recitative and Aria


Recitative:[Queen praises the hero] 

  • 10-bar orchestral introduction (Bbmajor)
  • 10-bar vocal section (move to Gminor via Fmajor)
  • accompaniment refers to style of introduction twice
  • detached chords support the voice
  • typical conclusion to a recitative = G-D vocal ending followed by V-I cadence 

Aria: (sometimes termed 'aria di bravura' where singer has to show bravery/courage/spirit)

  • 2 main part in different tempi (common for showpiece arias in late 18th century)
13 of 32


[Queen complains about suffering resulting from abduction of her daughter asking Tam for consolation.]


in G minor -his favourite key for grief/sadness 

binary structure

legato slow lyrical lament 

A SECTION (21-35) - change of key Gm-Bb AND change of her character from sorrow/loss to vigorous/evil 

B SECTION (36-43) - moves to Cm ending on chord V of Gm with tense music - Pamina distressed

B continued (44-60) - Gm and repetition of 28-9 at bars 45-6

14 of 32


[Queen begins to display her power/dark side and orders Tamino to save her daughter.]


Bb major (occurs in 61 + 64 V-1 cadences)

moderately fast  + virtuosic 

lord and forceful

2 sections WITHOUT scheme of binary structure

SECTION 1 (61-73) - Bb - Queen gives Tamino his quest with confident-sounding music

SECTION 2 (74-end) - Bb emphasising tonic/dominant +Eb suggestions 80-83 AND coloratura section diatonic 83-9 - Queen offers Tamino's right to Pamina if he returns victorious 

15 of 32

HARMONY 'O zittre nicht'

  • perfect cadences e.g. end of recit. (20-21)
  • imperfect cadences e.g. 'inverted' with IV-Vb in G minor (24)                                                        e.g. 'uninverted' with II-Ic-V (26-27)
  • exceptional interrupted cadences e.g. V7-VI (55-56) instead of a perfect cadence to end the largo section - section had to be extended to make the perfect cadence (60-61) end properly
  • many cadences at the end of the aria:
    • perfect cadence (93-94)
    • long cadential trill on supertonic 
    • weighty progression (94-98) 
    • lots of exposure to V and I in instrumental postlude
  • chromatic descent in bassoons + violas (3-5)
  • neapolitan 6th chord (19) - underlines 'tiefbetrubte' meaning 'deeply troubled' 
  • diminshed 7th chord (20)(47) - there are many of these (as well as diminished 5th chords + half-dim chords) where harmonic tension is required to suit the strongly emotional text
  • suspensions and appoggiaturas e.g.appoggiatura 'sighs' to end phrases(52)
  • tonic + dominant 7th 
  • arpeggios and scalic passages - coloratura section
16 of 32

TEXTURE 'O zittre nicht'


occasional homorhythm e.g. start of Larghetto - for simplicity and clarity

occasional contrapunty e.g. Larghetto b36 = chromatic countermelody in violas+bassoons under Queen's tortured solo line immitating 1 bar later

heterophony - 1st violins double vocal + groups of semiquavers beginning off the beat to provide additional movement to the slowest tempo

17 of 32

TEMPO + METRE 'O zittre nicht'

begins with short orchestral introduction 'Allegro maestoso' - Queen's majestic entrance

recitative marked 'rezitativ' - free tempo set by singer

aria has a slower 'larghetto' and faster 'allegro moderato' section


3/4 larghetto section

18 of 32

RHYTHM 'O zittre nicht'

(orchestral introduction) upper string syncopated quavers + onbeat bass repeated crotchet tonic pedal notes - classical way of adding tension for Queen's dramatic entrance

aria diverse rhythms and notes:

  • dotted rhythms + smooth quaver passages 
  • string demisemiquaver scalic passages (32-4) - anger
  • long tied note for 4 beats in a slowish tempo (34-35) - to emphasise first syllable of 'Bosewicht'
  • 'shivering'/ 'trembling' repeated semiquavers in violins (35-43)[portrays Pamina's trembling fear]
  • minims (47-48) - to make Queen's cries ' helft' dramatic
  • triplet in accompaniment (62-3)
  • astonishing vocal displays with semiquaver melismas (79-94)
  • continuous semiquavers (80-2 virtuous section)
  • music builds to a climax - upper strings tremolo-like passages of fast repeated semiquavers
  • solid minims at end of vocal - firm ending 
19 of 32

SONORITY 'Hm!hm!hm!'

ensemble - more than 2 soloists enabling drama to advance through their interaction

tenor Tamino (hero)

baritone Pamina (librettist Schikaneder)

vocal talents a lot more modest than Queen's + humerous e.g. nonsense syllables 

5 singers (in order of appearance): Pap, Tam, 3 ladies (sing together BUT seperate parts for 1st and 2nd Ladies) - express individual thoughts in solos, comes together for agreement in ensemble

same instruments as No.4 - accompanies OR doubles voices OR displays independant melodies OR plays responses to colour ends of vocal lines - keeps mood light/entertaining (136)(141)(185)

UNTIL Andante : smooth clarinets enter, flutes play only when being given to Tamino, no glockenspeil to represent bells but option to play it in the trio Act 2, marked dolce, bass line supplied by violin pizz. NOT cello, 

20 of 32

MELODY 'Hm!hm!hm!'

  • simple diatonic melodic lines
  • limited ranges
  • stepwise movement 
  • repeated notes
  • small leaps
  • periodic 2-bar or 4-bar phrasing

occasional chromatic passage:

  • e.g. solemn rising chromatic passage (158-9) - pretends to be afraid of Tamino
  • e.g. touching descending chromatic passages - expressing 'Fairwell, until...' (242-4)

Papegeno is the chief interest in this comic ensemble - melodically simple to suit his character of humble bird-character

other characters match Papageno's style 

orchestra often doubles the vocal e.g. Papageno's melody doubled by bassoons at start BUT Tamino's parts left undoubled 

21 of 32


  • 5 singers (in order of appearance): Pap, Tam, 3 ladies
  • no overall form AND through-composed with 5 main sections 
  • unified beginning and ending - Bb major  
  • ALLEGRO (1-32) - [papageno with padlock complaining] alternate 4-bar phrases then briefer exchanges then singing together in 2-point counterpoint, Papageno's 4-bar phrase returns and is extended by a partial repetition (27) Bb
  • 2 (33-76) - dialogue between Pap+1/all ladies [as padlock freed],ladies 3-part homophony, all voices in 'sotto voce' 5-part homophony/unison [agreement about praising brotherhood on earth and warning Papageno to tell the truth] , oboe descents seperate vocal loud-soft lines F
  • 3 (77-131) - 1st Lady solo [presents flute to Tamino], ladies 3-part homophonic, all 'sotto voce'[praise flute's powers], homophony with brief antiphony, 121-3 repeats 74-7 Bb - briefy in F(96-101)
  • 4 (132-213) - Pap+ladies [bells presented] based on phrase from 141-3, 5-note triadic acc [bells](143), all [praise the instruments and bid farewell], Tam+Pap dialogue then together [urgency/impatience- alternating chords in V7-V in Bb for questioning where they go next?NOT V-I in F despite Enats) Gm, Dm(142), Gm(164), Eb[glock presented](172), Bb(174)
  • 5 ANDANTE (214) - ladies phrases use clarinet/pizz.violin harmonies + high bassoons [told that 3 boys will guide on quest] (217), phrase then repeated by Tam+Pap in different octaves, all sing farewells for rest of section based on 217-25, 237 onwards based on 224-5 Bb
22 of 32

HARMONY 'Hm!hm!hm!'

classical feminine cadences: Ic-V strong to weak (84)

many perfect cadences - usually with V7-I (90-1)

descending scale figure in violins over tonic pedal (109)

augmented 6th harmonies e.g. 150-1 vi6-V in Dminor

chromaticism  e.g. rising phrase in octaves (158) [Papageno shows fear for what is in store.]

bass (pizz. violins NOT cello) descent down tonic scale at half-bar intervals - harmony changes with it using alternating root and 1st inversion chords in a 4-bar phrase ending with an imperfect cadence

simple harmonies for 5 singer's farewells 

chromaticism in chromatic descent (242) - to convey pang of leaving 

3 quiet tonic chords of Bb (music fades)

23 of 32

TEXTURE 'Hm!hm!hm!'


homorhythm used 

same rhythm in vocals against independant orchestral part - underlines singers agreement , projects text well e.g. 111-15

monophonic writing e.g. linking passages 64 / 72 /103 - emphasise lightness/elegance of orchestral writing 

octave passages e.g. 61 to emphasise value of truth / 77 / 105 - more assertive than monophonic sections

unison e.g. 61 to emphasise value of truth

some contrapunty e.g. 117 seperate polyphonic lines with imitation between 1st and 3rd lady 

(Andante) pizz. violins provide bass line NOT cello 

orchestra accompanies but sometimes doubles voices 

24 of 32

TEMPO + METRE 'Hm!hm!hm!'

quick 'Allegro' - suits comic nature of text

change to slower 'Andante' at end - slightly calmer atmosphere [referencing to 3 boys who will 'hover' over Tam+Pap]

2/2 cut-common (minim beats more convenient than crotchet beat due to faster tempo) - 'Allegro'

4/4 common - 'Andante'

25 of 32

RHYTHM 'Hm!hm!hm!'

nonsense syllables repeated notes supply rhythmic foundation to Tamino's melodious replies

less diverse than No.4


syncopation e.g. 1st lady 188-9

alternating notes + rests e.g. 217-21 - similiar to staccato and useful for clearly articulating text sotto voce

26 of 32

TEXTURE general




occasional contrapunty 

occasional heterophony 

27 of 32

HARMONY general

functional - emphasis on I and V7 (+their inversions)

frequent perfect cadences 

some imperfect cadences

  • 'inverted' imp cad IV-Vb (24 of No.4)
  • ordinary uninverted imp cad II-Ic-V (26-7 of No.4)

exceptional interrupted cadences 

  • delaying tactic to extend Largo section (55-6 of No.4)

use of lots of cadences together e.g. end of aria

dissonance :

  • suspensions
  • appogiaturas
  • Neapolitan 6ths
  • diminished 7th chords / half-diminished chords / diminished 5th chords
28 of 32



  • recitative = 10-bar orch intro (Bb) + 10-bar with vocal (move to Gm via F)
  • aria - larghetto , allegro moderato
    • largo - binary structure A-B-Bcont
    • allegro moderato - 2 sections (both in Bb - except from Eb 80-3 section 2)


  • in order of appearance: Pap, Tam, 3 ladies
  • no overall form 
  • through-composed with 5 sections:
    • 1 - Allegro Pap + Tam (Bb)
    • 2 - Pap+1/all ladies, All (F)
    • 3 - Ist lady solo, all ladies, All (Bb - F at 96-101)
    • 4 - Pap+ladies, All, Pap+Tam (Gm, Dm, Gm, Eb, Bb)
    • 5 - ladies, Pap+Tam (Bb)
  • unified in beginning and ending (Bb)
29 of 32

MELODY general


  • adventurous range
  • rhythmic/melodic diversity
  • many leaps
  • occasional 'difficult' leaps
  • chromatic passages
  • 'sighing' cadence / appoggiaturas
  • triadic shapes
  • repeated note acc - reinforce harmony wihtout taking attention from vocal


  • simple diatonic melodies
  • limited range
  • stepwise
  • repeated notes
  • small leaps
  • occasional chromatic passages
  • periodic phrasing 
30 of 32

TEMPO + METRE general


  • 'Allegro maestoso' orch intro 4/4
  • 'rezitativ' free tempo vocal recitative 4/4
  • 'larghetto' slower section of aria 3/4
  • 'allegro moderato' faster section of aria 4/4


  • 'allegro' 1 2/2
  • 'andante' near the end 4/4
31 of 32


commonly added to scores (classical):

  • f / p / cresc. / fp / sfz
  • mf exceptional

extreme dynamics : ff / pp NOT INDICATED

dynamic changes had to be reinforced by addiction/reduction in orchestral forces

used regularly in orchestral parts

used rarely in vocal parts - singers capable of choosing appropriate dynamic

some vocal dynamics in ensemble parts e.g. 184 of no.5 'sotto voce' ('under the voice') equivalent to pp whisper delivery

32 of 32


No comments have yet been made

Similar Music resources:

See all Music resources »See all Vocal Music resources »