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Classical 101

Mozart Minute: The Mozarts at Play

image of a portrait of Mozart in which he wears a bright red coat
Catch The Mozart Minute every Friday at noon, and listen to The Mozart Minute podcast at wosu.org/podcasts.

As the saying goes, it takes one to know one. Mozart knew all kinds of characters, on and off the opera stage. He also knew good drama when he saw it, which, given the drama that is life, was pretty much every day.

So it's not surprising that, when a little scene transpired while Mozart was strolling about one day in 1783 with his wife, Constanze, and a friend, Mozart would rip the action from the pages of reality, pluck the people involved out of real life and transport all of it to the page and to the stage.

Maybe it was a windy day, or maybe it was just a classic wardrobe malfunction - whatever it was, a ribbon belt Constanze had been wearing while ambling about with Wolfgang and their friend the Baron Gottfried von Jacquin in Vienna's fun and fashionable Prater came loose from its moorings.

The event prompted Constanze to exclaim in Viennese dialect, "Liebes Mandl, wo ist's Bandel" - "Dear husband, where's the ribbon?" The towering Jacquin picked up the stray ribbon and held it above the Mozarts' heads, vowing to relinquish it only if Wolfgang or Constanze could jump high enough to reach it.

Jacquin declared the episode would make a good opera scene. Mozart wrote it up in a goofy libretto, which he then set to equally goofy music. The characters in this opera are Wolfgang, Constanze and Jacquin themselves. And there's really not much more to the drama than what you already know: the characters sing about Constanze losing her ribbon and Jacquin's refusal to give it back without a fight.

Mozart's libretto in rhyming Viennese dialect and his nursery rhyme-style music prattle on with the feel of a trifling pleasure - which the so-called Bandl-Terzett (K. 441) was when Mozart penned it in 1783, and also when he performed it in January 1787 while in Prague for the wildly successful Prague premiere of another comic opera, The Marriage of Figaro.

Jennifer Hambrick unites her extensive backgrounds in the arts and media and her deep roots in Columbus to bring inspiring music to central Ohio as Classical 101’s midday host. Jennifer performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago before earning a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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