Mozart and the Enlightenment: Truth, Virtue, and Beauty in Mozart's Operas

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W. W. Norton & Company, 1995 - Biography & Autobiography - 371 pages
3 Reviews
In this fascinating study of Mozart's operas, Nicholas Till shows that the composer was not a "divine idiot" but an artist whose work was informed by the ideas and discoveries of the Enlightenment. Examining the dramatic emergence of a modern society in eighteenth-century Austria, the author draws on such famous writers and thinkers of the time as Richardson, Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant, Goethe, Schiller, and Blake to reappraise the history and meaning of the Enlightenment and of Mozart's role within it. He evokes for us the Vienna of the 1780s, a world of intense intellectual argument, political debate, and religious inquiry, which deeply influenced the philosophical content of Mozart's operas. From the early La Finta Giardiniera, based on Richardson's Pamela, to Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, designed to support the political aims of Emperor Joseph II; from Le nozze di Figaro, a profound exploration of marriage as a human and social institution, to the post-Enlightenment Zauberflote, the operas bear witness to the era's changing views and to Mozart's own quest for personal and artistic identity.
  

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Mozart and the Enlightenment: truth, virtue, and beauty in Mozart's operas

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One might have hoped there would be a moratorium on books about Mozart after the excesses of his recent bicentennial, but this reviewer would gladly make an exception for this one. This critical study ... Read full review

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Contents

Enlightenment and
1
The education of a bourgeois artist
9
H La finta giardiniera
17
Hi Opera and the Enlightenment
38
Idomeneo
60
vn Vienna and the Enlightenment
85
Mozarts arrival in Vienna
97
Freemasonry and the Catholic Enlightenment
117
The return to Italian opera
130
The meaning of classicism
172
The collapse of Josephinism
189
La clemenza di Tito
258
Epilogue
320
Bibliography
351
Index
362
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About the author (1995)

Nicholas Till is Professor of Opera and Music Theatre and Leverhulme Research Fellow at the University of Sussex. He has previously worked as a director for opera companies in the UK and Europe and as a librettist and director for new works performed by Royal Opera Garden Venture, English National Opera Studio and Stuttgart Opera, among others. He is the author of Mozart and the Enlightenment (1992), has written extensively on contemporary opera and music theatre and has taught in many fields, including visual arts, theatre and film. As Director of the Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre at the University of Sussex, he regularly contributes talks and programme articles to opera companies in the UK, Europe and the USA and is a frequent contributor to radio and television programmes. He is currently working on a book about the origins of opera in the seventeenth century.

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