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Mozart and His Operas

Overview

"David Cairns's Mozart, published to mark the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth, recounts Mozart's life from the perspective of some of his greatest works - the operas. Cairns goes beyond conventional biography to give fresh insight into Mozart's creative process, helping us to understand what was revolutionary about his music in its time and what remains extraordinary about it today." "Cairns traces Mozart's early life as a musical prodigy and shows how the genius grew up, surviving his unnatural childhood to produce works of increasing
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Overview

"David Cairns's Mozart, published to mark the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth, recounts Mozart's life from the perspective of some of his greatest works - the operas. Cairns goes beyond conventional biography to give fresh insight into Mozart's creative process, helping us to understand what was revolutionary about his music in its time and what remains extraordinary about it today." "Cairns traces Mozart's early life as a musical prodigy and shows how the genius grew up, surviving his unnatural childhood to produce works of increasing maturity and originality. He unpicks the many myths surrounding Mozart to show a man who was not, as legend has it, two contradictory beings, sublime artist and clown, but one - a creature no less miraculous than before, but more human." Using operas as his guide, the book follows the steady deepening of Mozart's musical style, from his coming of age with what Cairns sees as the most romantic and forward-looking of all his operas, Idomeneo, commissioned for the Munich Carnival in 1781; through the three comic operas written with Lorenzo Da Ponte, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Cosi fan tutte, which display his mastery to the full; and finally to The Magic Flute, the greatest and most complex achievement of his career. The impact of the operas and his instrumental music on each other is subtly assessed, as Cairns shows how familiarity with the operas can transform our perceptions of the whole of Mozart's art.
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Editorial Reviews

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In this immensely readable biography, David Cairns puts Mozart’s operas front and center, letting the music illuminate the creative aspects of the composer’s life. Revealing both a scholar’s understanding and an aficionado’s passion, Cairns’s commentary -- as colorful and character driven as the operas themselves -- is a true delight.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140296747
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 2/28/2008

Meet the Author

David Cairns has been chief music critic of the Sunday Times and music critic and arts editor of the Spectator. He has been Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of California, Davis, and a visiting scholar at the Getty Center in Santa Monica. His two-volume biography of Berlioz, published by UC Press, is the definitive work on the subject.

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Table of Contents

1 Imitation, assimilation : the early operas 17
2 "Such great things in so small a head" : Indomeneo 32
3 Vienna and a new life : Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail 69
4 Lorenzo Da Ponte and the perfect marriage : Le nozze di Figaro 99
5 Prague and "the opera of all operas" : Don Giovanni 136
6 Catechisms of love : Cosi fan tutte 169
7 Mozart the visionary : The magic flute 194
8 Propaganda and parable : La clemenza di Tito 229
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