O Empresário (The Businessman)
“None opera script can be wise,
Because people don’t sing when they feel wise.”
W. H. Auden
Looking to the opera intending to see it from inside. Highlighting what is not seen in a spectacle. Showing the working mechanisms of a work on stage, a work in theater and music. Revealing the artistic processes that lead to the stage. Approaching behaviors and concerns of opera artists. Hearing the piano’s sound. Seeing, materialized, the singer’s voice. Thinking what the opera can be for us today. These are some of the motivations that guide this work.
The choice of “O Empresário” (The Businnessman) from Mozart indicates the path that we try to cover. It is a metalinguistic work. The characters are from the opera, the theme is the opera and what is questioned and intended to be understood is exactly the historic, social and cultural circumstances of this art form.
Our version, freely adapted, reinforces the work inside the work. It is about an audition for the opera “The Businessman” by Mozart. In this audition, two singers audition to join the cast, a singer is already hired and another singer is the businessman himself. The environment is of a theater and the situations are the ones typical of a selection process to an opera montage. Conducting a non-linear script, the actors-singers bring to life on stage a repertoire that, besides the two arias, the trio and the quartet that integrates the original content by Mozart, passes by two more arias of “The Magic Flute”, one of “The Abduction of the Seraglio”, besides songs from Kurt Weill and Anton Webern.
Rio de Janeiro, February 2004.
“The love for opera is weird.
It causes absorbing passions.
Seen in cold, they can show themselves
very comic, caricatured…
But the intensity of emotions that the opera knows
how to produce is an irreplaceable experience…”
Mozart – The Businessman and the metalanguage in opera
Mozart’s operas present such a psychologic veracity of their characters that many of them never stopped showing since the premiere: The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, among others contain such a “dramatic-musical truth” that make them a true symbol of persistence of the past in the repertoire of the present. And no one more appropriate than Mozart to make a faithful and persistent portrait of the opera environment.
In 1789, Mozart and Salieri together cheer up the party of a noble in Vienna that had ordered works that spoke about the not always peaceful backstage of the opera environment. Salieri writes Prima la Musica and Dopo le Parole. And in the same night is presented Der Schauspieldirektor (The Businessman), singspiel buffo that requested the presence of four singers and many actors in a intrigue concerning the impressive singer Madame Herz (Heart) and the youthful and lively Mademoiselle Silberklang (Silver Sound). The original text by Gottliebe Sthephanie got older much more than the witty music by Mozart.
Starting from the original idea, why not bring the action to the present days, in an opera audition typical of our times, with rivalry similar to those in the XVII century? To show the “timelessness” of the proposal we open the spectacle with one the most beautiful songs from Kurt Weill, Nanas Lied (1939), a touching narrative of a woman that is taken to prostitution, which is based in a beautiful poetry of Bertold Brecht. And we conclude with an enigmatic Song by Anton Webern (1934), of his final period, that is used as text of one of the pantheistic visions of Hildergard Jone. All of this not before we pass through the universe of Singspiel Mozartiano, through moments of The Magic Flute and of the The Abduction of The Serraglio. In this modern, actual and plural context, Mozart’s music lends itself to this cruel, aggressive and so little worthy, but at the same time fun portrait that characterizes the surrounding of the musical life.
The Businessman from Mozart has been performed in the most diverse adaptations to what refers to the spoken part. Its music enjoys of a reputation that puts itself, despite its brevity, between the best of the author. Updating it, putting it side to side with the capital works of the XX century, enjoying the special characteristics of this space and the multimedia recourses, is a challenge that invite us to the reflection upon Mozart’s genial lyric legacy.
Curitiba, February 2004