Opera Scotland


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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (born Salzburg, 27 January 1756; died Vienna, 5 December 1791)

Johann Andreas Schachtner.

Das Serail (c1778) by Franz Josef Sebastiani.


First performance: Frankfurt (Opernhaus), 27 January 1866.
First UK performance: London (Toynbee Hall), 10 January 1953.
First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Festival Theatre), 16 March 1996.
Scottish Opera première: N/A.


Mozart was determined to support the regular performance of opera in German. The tradition, such as it was, embraced Singspiel, a simple form of spoken play interspersed with sung sections. As a child, Mozart produced a simple example Bastien und Bastienne, and he later, around 1779-80, he composed sections of another piece with a Turkish setting. The intended title is unknown, but it is now generally called Zaide. The text, by the Salzburg Court trumpeter Schachtner, is largely lost. The surviving pieces are an opening chorus, ten arias, a duet, a trio, a quartet, and two sections known as melodrama, where a character speaks lines to musical accompaniment.. Why Mozart stopped composing it is unknown, and the plot details and character relationships are likewise unknown. Many attempts have been made to supply a logical text for performance, with varying degrees of success.


Zaide (soprano)
Gomatz (tenor)
Sultan Soliman (tenor)
Allazim (baritone)
Osmin (bass)


Plot Summary
Gomatz, newly enslaved, is full of self-pity, but at last falls asleep. Zaide, herself a slave, but now the Sultan’s favourite, sings “Ruhe sanft”, a beautiful song delivered over his body as he sleeps, and the best known piece in the score. She leaves her portrait and a jewel by his side. When Gomatz awakes they plan their escape, in which scheme they are joined by Allazim. The plot is discovered and the Sultan informed. He is furious and determines on revenge. Zaide maintains her defiant attitude in prison, and Allazim makes a final attempt to persuade the Sultan to be merciful. The situation is summed up in a quartet, but the outcome is not revealed.

The Cast

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