The Genesis of Don Giovanni
The onset of the Austro-Turkish War had a major impact on opera in Vienna, as Joseph II decided on economic grounds to close one of his two companies, bringing to an end two years of intertroupe rivalry. His choice fell on the Singspiel ensemble which was instructed to disband. On the political front, two dynastic Habsburg marriages had to be scheduled in haste: between Archduke Franz, nephew of Joseph II, and Elisabeth von Württemberg, who was sponsored by Catherine the Great of Russia, and between Maria Theresia, the emperor’s niece, and Prince Anton of Saxony. Three festive operas were commissioned: Martín y Soler’s L’arbore di Diana, Salieri’s Axur, and Mozart’s Don Giovanni. In the growing political turmoil, Mozart’s commission was not ready in time, and Joseph II ordered that Figaro be given instead.
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