After Gluck, Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) brought opera to a new maturity. Born of German parents in Salzburg, Austria at a time when Austria was part of the Holy Roman Empire, we consider Mozart to be German. Working in Salzburg and Vienna, he started his work in the opera with Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio, 1782); but it has been said that he created an almost perfect opera when he took a French play by Pierre-Augustin de Beaumarchais, Le Mariage de Figaro, and set it to music. The opera (Le nozze di Figaro/The Marriage of Figaro) was first performed in 1786. (For interested readers, Beaumarchais (1732-1799) was a watchmaker, inventor, playwright, musician, diplomat, spy, publisher, horticuluturist, arms dealer, satirist, financier and revolutionary, supporting both the American and French revolutions.)
Thankfully, we have any number of baritones who enjoy singing the aria “Non piu andrai” from Le Nozze di Figaro, a thoroughly enjoyable piece of music. Moreover, thanks to YouTube, we have a video clip of Bryn Terfel singing the piece, with english subtitles for those of us not fluent in Italian.
For those who have never heard a pure instrumental version of this piece of Mozart’s music, we have an audio clip that gives you that opportunity. It is very different and highlights the reason that vocal music has overtaken symphonic music in popularity. Both the instrumental and vocal versions have their charms; what is important to us is to compare the two versions; this will permit you to understand and appreciate the vast difference between the two art forms.