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“I must now tell you my idea. I do not think Italian opera can last much longer ... I am also in favour of German opera . . . Each nation has its opera . . . Why shouldn’t we Germans have it . . . I am writing at present a German opera for myself . .

Characteristics of Opera

The two main characteristics of opera are RECITATIVE and ARIAS.

RECITATIVE is when characters in the opera ‘speak’ in musical tones and have dialogue with each other. This is a device to advance the plot of the opera.

ARIAS are lengthy melodic pieces in which the thoughts, feelings and desires of the characters are made known. Arias can be elaborate solos, as in the “Queen of the Night” area from “The Magic Flute” in “Amadeus’ or as duos, trios and quartets etc

DISCUSSION: Consider the system of patronage as shown in the film “Amadeus”.

  • 1.

    In your opinion is patronage a good system or a bad system? Do you think that musicians should have complete freedom to do as they please?

  • 2.

    Why do you think Mozart behaved as he did at his first meeting with Emperor Joseph II, Antonio Salieri and the other court musicians? Do you consider his background to have any bearing on his behaviour?


  • 1.

    Write a diary entry as either Emperor Joseph II or Antonio Salieri on your first impressions of Wolfgang Mozart.

  • 2.

    Write a letter of reference for Mozart from the Archbishop Colloredo of Salzburg to Emperor Joseph in Vienna.

3. Write a letter from Constanze to her mother explaining the reasons why she took Mozart’s manuscripts to Salieri and what Salieri’s reaction was to them.

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