Mozart's Famous Operas

Mozart's operas are breathtaking, even in this day and age. Read this article for an introduction to his more famous operas.

Mozart is renowned as one of the best operatic composers in history. But what makes his work so great? Lovers of opera will tell you that although they can't put their finger on it, there is something in the music that makes Mozart immortal. In his most famous opera, this "something" can be defined as a sense of his characters, the musical whole and theatrical timing.

The trait of Mozart's operas that set them apart from all others is their simplicity. They almost lead you to believe that you could write an opera yourself. However, under this simple structure is a craftily designed plan of the opera as a whole. Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro is one of Mozart's first and finest examples of this idea. Written with Da Ponte, the most famous librettist of the time, Mozart created a light-hearted, charming comedy that brought rave reviews from Vienna, where it opened, and later from Europe. The secret to this opera is its contrasts. The plot is extremely complicated, and its possible that even Mozart and Da Ponte never ironed out all the holes. A Count tries to seduce his lady's chambermaid, only to be brought short by an alliance between her and the entire cast, including a gardener, a crafty page and various ladies of the court. While the whole opera is a comedy, several arias bring audiences to tears on a regular basis, including the famous "Dove sono," sung by the Countess. Mozart's handling of the roles is wonderful, and one can tell that he has an expert touch with plot from the changes that he makes himself in the libretto. His orchestration mirrors his lightning changes in mood, to create an opera that hits every emotion and resolves almost seamlessly.

Mozart experimented with the idea of having one, main character in his operas. It is often the case that a cast of six or even eight runs the action in his most famous works. Cosi fan tutte is a good example of this. It is again of seduction and reconciliation, but in this opera, the role of the orchestra and ensemble is very important. There are a great deal of chorus pieces, and often the orchestra illustrates a mood before the scene has begun. Another famous Mozart opera, The Magic Flute, is a romp with this same idea in mind. There is a leading group of characters and an impressive orchestra accompaniment for this work.

Perhaps one of the finest aspects of Mozart's work is the realism of his characters. He does not place a single one of his characters onstage without giving them a chance to articulate themselves. He also allows his music to articulate a scene. One finale of Don Giovanni contains three kinds of dances: a peasant romp, a stately dance and an elegant waltz, all at once! It is impossible to find a Mozart entity that is not carefully planned in the music. One of his finest examples of this is in Don Giovanni. Again, an evil Count tries to seduce numerous ladies, only to be defeated by his own flattery and cunning. The realism of the Count is terrifying in this opera. Mozart's father had recently died at the time of his creation, and in this opera one can see the composer re-create his father in the character of the Count. He is at once fascinating and repulsive. Perhaps the realism of each characters comes from the life of the composer himself. His experience embodies itself in his work, and makes it unbelievably real.

For the Mozart beginner, I would recommend a viewing of these four operas. Together, they create a comprehensive view of this composer's talent.

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