12 June 2010

The Week in Mozart

"Wolf Trap lets audience choose the ending to Mozart's unfinished opera 'Zaide'," by Anne Midgette in the Washington Post.

Zaide (the title was added later, after Mozart's death) is a German Singspiel that Mozart began to compose in 1779, but never completed. The general topos of the story—Europeans trapped or in slavery in Moslem countries—was a popular one at the time; a similar story is found in Die Entführung aus dem Serail. There are 15 complete musical numbers in the surviving autograph of Zaide, but the overture and several numbers from the end of the opera are missing. Today its most well-known number is probably "Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben," which turns up frequently on soprano recital programs.

In rehearsal, the directors of the production at  Wolf Trap created three variant endings for the Singspiel. Rather than choosing one ending to the exclusion of the others, they decided to let audience members vote on which ending they prefer.

The performances are taking place this weekend.

"Sewage plant plays Mozart to stimulate microbes" reports Kate Connolly in The Guardian. The subhead says it all: "Sewage operator believes chords and cadences of compositions speed up way the organisms break down biomass."  He says it works, and Mozart does it best. (Hat tip to Markus Hauck.)

And along those lines, it's worth mentioning again the article "Mozart effect-Schmozart effect: A meta-analysis," in Intelligence, which I mentioned on 31 May. Unfortunately the article is behind a paywall, at $31.50.... But who knows, perhaps if I'm lucky, an angel will reveal the article to me in a dream (perhaps bound in gold covers...then I can start a religion).
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