Heart and soul of Vienna | Sunday Observer

Heart and soul of Vienna

14 May, 2021
City of Vienna
City of Vienna

Born in Salzburg, Mozart decided to make Vienna his home for the rest of his life. This was his base and after the death of his beloved mother, he returned to Salzburg to compose Idomeneo for the archbishop, and immediately left for Vienna where his heart lay. Decided to write and score the Marriage of Figaro which became an instant hit with all music lovers and spiraled him to the top.

This beautiful opera on stage of the Royal Opera House, was a fantastic musical experience I had. The whole scenario was glittering with life, elevated by brilliant libretto and innate solos among duets and others. Singing was so gorgeous that I felt it was the type of operatic music that I did not expect.

The independent intertwining melodic parts related to each other, it was easy on the ears. For me it was like cutting edge of new music because I rarely listen to operatic music or watch an opera after running away from The Phantom of the Opera few years back in London. But what Mozart had created to night was so gentle and awe inspiring. It moved smoothly to the end mostly sung by the experienced classical singers.

I think all of them excelled in their different roles, especially Sussana (Eri Nakamura) and Figaro (Erwin Schrott). The movements to music matched the voices and the costumes were brilliant in keeping with the times. Lighting effects created mystery that highlighted some scenes which otherwise would have looked drab and boring.

The temperament with its violent and rapid changes of mood and emotion was another highlight and the excellent qualities of classical music was fully exploited, there were no turmoil in Mozart’s music, no neuroticism and no dark brooding side. It rose in its direct conservative innocence and wonderfully uncomplicated.

What makes him stand apart from the rest are the emotion and sensitive handling of the technical aspects such as counterpoint and the effortless orchestration that are rich in colour and imagination. No depth, no height the human spirit can attain that is not found in Mozart’s music. As a composer, no one has been revered as him so much so one of his critics wrote. When angels sing for God, they sing Bach but when they sing for each other they sing Mozart.

Main instrument

Mozart’s main instrument was the keyboard but for me it is the violin that I hear his scores melodiously.

This opera in four Acts was first performed in 1786 and debuted at the Royal Opera House in 2006 and presently, the revised version is presented to all music lovers in London. It is supported by the ROH Endowment Fund. Always a favourite with the audiences, it returns to the ROH with increased fervour and produced by David McVicar who sets the story in the late 1820s to reveal the truth and wit, the simmering tension between master and servants.

Therefore, the symptoms of revolution are not far away. The performers are world class alternating in the roles, giving all the experts to be a part of this great opera. The award-wining Collin Davies who is a recognised Mozartian share the baton with yet another great conductor, David Syrus. Once again, Erwin Schrott takes over the role of the cunning servant, Figaro. This is enacted in such enlightened times that if the Count wishes to dance, then Figaro will make sure it is to his tune and not his master !

In the opera repertory, Mozart’s music makes this one of the finest crowns with a wealth of famous melodies all sung in Italian that start from the familiar first notes of the energetic Overture.

Ask any composer and he will agree with me.

There are some good composers who have been forgotten for various reasons and who wrote rewarding music. They may be few and probably not discovered unlike the great Beethovens and Tchaikovskys. One reason is that it at least takes half a century before a composer’s music can be properly evaluated or viewed in historical context. But few are exceptional like Mozart tonight and the list is endless.

Some of today’s leading conductors go out of their way to bring in the lesser known compositions under their batons. One such is the Principle Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimi Jurowski.

Opera music

One has to admit that opera music is a minority; it is not every one who dwell in it; like me who struggle to ‘put up’ with operatic music.

And they are the one who find an opera by Tchaikovsky to be the most accessible of works who cannot understand and find difficult challenge to hear more attuned to the melodies, harmonies and rhythms of an opera by Puccini and Mozart, because this cannot be common to the taste of people who relish classical music in their own way and terms, but for people with ordinary likes and dislikes who prefer to listen to a wide variety of music and are capable of being contradictory.

One cannot blame such people or their preferences. Yet, among them are the ones who still can listen to classical music but abhor operatic.

To be able to understand a score in its histories context can be very revealing the way I felt though not much inclined to operatic works. The sound world that is music textures a composer, reflects the age and in which he lived. It is very easy to identify Mozart in the spirit. By that revelation, the significance of each of these eras can be identified, especially by music scholars. Some composers are remembered today for a single work and they top the charts each time a survey is made. My example on this is the lesser known is Johan Pachebel whose Canon in D is superior to many of the compositions played in Concert Halls.