The Bohemian Lands
In autumn 1787, while preparing the first performance of Don Giovanni, Mozart and the impresario Bondini were alarmed to find that the Archduchess Maria Theresa was due to visit Prague and would attend the première of the opera planned for 14 October. According to the composer’s own account to von Jacquin,1 not only would the performance have been under-prepared, but the subject matter was unlikely to find favour with the royal visitor. The situation was saved by a royal command to the effect that if the new opera was not ready, Le nozze di Figaro would serve. The archduchess was honeymooning in Prague with her new husband, Prince Anton of Saxony, and left a few days later. The anecdote serves less to illuminate an uncomfortable, if slightly risible, episode in the composer’s career than as an illustration of the status of Prague in the Austrian empire. For the aristocracy of Vienna, who were to a large extent the raison d’être for large-scale musical performance in the Bohemian capital, Prague was less a second home than a place to stay on the way to further destinations, or a refuge for holidaying.
KeywordsMigration Europe Tuberculosis Expense Arena
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