Mozart’s one-act comic opera “der Schauspieldirektor”, or The Impresario, was originally composed in 1786 as a “Singspiel” – a German type of play interspersed with various musical numbers – at the request of Emperor Joseph II for a private performance at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. Mozart wrote The Impresario at around the same time as The Marriage of Figaro.
It contains marvelous music – a well-known overture, and four vocal numbers. The original libretto, however, presents a number of challenges in mounting a full-fledged production. For this performance, we are fortunate indeed to have an English adaptation authored by William J. Brooke, who also happens to be our stage director and play the title role of Impresario (all at once!). In his adaptation, the first two solo arias are largely sung in the original German; the trio and finale are done in English, as is the dialogue.
The story itself is about the woes of an opera company director (Scruples). His scheming assistant (Bluff), who longs to sing bass roles on stage, engages a banker (Mr. Angel) to financially “rescue” the opera company’s upcoming season. In return, Mr. Angel merely requests Scruples to showcase Mr. Angel’s two paramours (Madame Goldentrill and Miss Silverpeal) each of which happens to be an opera singer, and each of which thinks she should be the prima donna for the upcoming opera season!
Of course theatrical and musical fireworks ensue, before leading to a most unlikely (yet satisfactory) conclusion.
The Impresario, K. 486
By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Composed in 1786