<< -- 5 -- Roderic Dunnett WIT AND ORIGINALITY
The opera, after enjoying some popularity, waned in Germany-Austria, though manuscripts survived. The key evidence for Mozart's precise involvement, however, finally turned up among many items taken by the Red Army from North Germany (the Hamburg city archive in particular), by way of postwar reparations, when they were deposited in Leningrad -- now St Petersburg -- and not returned till a trade-off for computers agreed by a destitute Soviet Union during the waning Gorbachev era.
The scholar David Buch, who anticipated and first drew attention to the Mozart autographs on parts of the score which seemed to confirm their authenticity, did not see these manuscripts until 1996, having been alerted in 1993. During that brief period restoration work was undertaken in Hamburg to combat the effects of water-damage suffered in a Leningrad cellar archive.
The manuscript confirmed what David Buch had hoped. Not one but two 'cat' duets (one a clear cousin of the Papageno-Papagena duet), plus various other arias or sequences were either attributed to Mozart, or self-evidently in Mozart's hand. He may have had a hand in parts of the instrumentation elsewhere too. On the one hand, this was merely confirmation of what was already widely believed. On the other hand, they provided crucial and (it seems) indisputable proof of Mozartian authorship.
Copyright © 9 July 2006
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry UK