Monday, 21 December 2015

Der Spiegel von Arkadien

Don't you just love it when one bit of information leads to another hint, around another corner and leads you to yet a new facet from times past? 

This happened just today. 
In the last couple of days there were some nice pins coming up on Pinterest, mostly by Sabine. Among them was also this lovely one from the Rijksmuseum

Another friend, lovely Miss A. asked me what is written on the poster, and I obliged by translating. Der Spiegel von Arkadien - Arcadian Mirror. 
Suddenly the line struck something. 
Der Spiegel Von Arkadien. Where did I read this? Thoughts went racing. 
Arcadia, the Idyll? Nope. Arkadien in Arenenberg? Nope, that bit of Arcadia was created 20 years later. A play by Gessner? Negative. The landscape garden in Arlesheim? Negative again. 
Music. Possibly music. Must be music. Yes! The song 'Seit ich soviele Weiber sah' started in my head, I've heard it years ago during a recital of contemporary composers of Mozart at the Mozartweg in Aarburg, and I remembered it was from a work called 'Something Arcadia'. 
Must be Schikaneder, because of German and bearing similarities to Papageno's airs. 
And then again happened, what I adore of today's world of digitalisation: I've had some clues, punched them into the search engine, and had all the information at my fingertips. 

What luxury, there lies so much information, about this opera. The full score, the libretto, all of what was considered to be one of the most popular operas of the late 18th century, composed by Franz Xaver Süssmayr, libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder is available to us.
The opera premiered in November 1794 in the Theater auf der Wieden, had grand success, apparently translated in many languages. (If you happen to stumble over a local advertisement from 'our' period, please share, I keep my eyes open) 
A modern (2014) review:
Quote: "Franz Xaver Süßmayr (1766–1803) launched a career as one of the most respected German opera composers of the time with the success of Der Spiegel von Arkadien.
The critical reception was almost uniformly enthusiastic; the score was even compared to that of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, rare praise for the time."
The full libretto can be read here:
A CD recording came out back in 2006, I will certainly endeavour to order it, what I've heard so far was easy and pleasing to the ear, it's just this bit of light and airy music what makes me cheerful and chipper.
And to have the circle closing - there are our lovely fashionable ladies, in Spring/Summer 1795, apparently discussing whether or not to go and hear the latest Big Hit, or maybe discussing details of it? What thrills me is the fact that this piece of music was popular enough to be integrated into a fashion plate. And yes, I admit, having a little earful of popular music and plays (taking up the long dispute between Schiller admirers and Kotzebue-Acolytes) gives us just yet another tiny glimpse into everyday life 220 years ago.

Isn't this grand on what wonderful little promenades one fashion print can take us? Contrary to the ladies in the print, we don't have to wait for the music. 
Edit: Sabine supplied me with this link regarding the adaptation by Christian August Vulpius in Weimar


  1. Love, live the full circle of connecting and reconnecting! Thank you! This was fun!

    1. I actually, typed, 'love, love...' Sorry.