A four-minute cantata by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart thought to have been lost forever was played on harpsichord to an audience on 15 February after being rediscovered in the Czech Museum of Music last November.
The piece originated in 1785 and interestingly enough, it was co-written by Mozart and Antonio Salieri. Musicologists are suggesting that this sheds more light on the relationship between the two composers, making the famous story told in the film Amadeus of the evil Salieri plotting the genius’ death much less likely. It has been known for some time that Mozart and Salieri had a better relationship in reality than on screen, but this is the first evidence of direct collaboration between the two.
The cantata was entitled “Per la ricuperata salute di Ophelia” and was written to celebrate the recovery from an illness of soprano Nancy Storace. Storace, the original Susanna in Mozart’s Figaro, reportedly lost her voice during a performance and was absent from the stage in Vienna for several months.
The cantata was found by German composer Timo Jauko Hermann when he recognised the title in the museum’s online collection. “I was overjoyed when I came across the text! It would have of course been a small sensation to produce the evidence that such a work had in fact existed at all. But then when the response to my request was if I only wanted the text or the notation associated with it, I could hardly believe my luck,” Hermann told an interviewer.
Hermann plans to have the piece published so that it can be performed more widely.