Two Operas from the Series Die zween Anton, Part 2: Die verdeckten Sachen (Vienna, 1789)

Edited by David J. Buch
Recent Researches in the Music of the Classical Era, 98
A-R Editions, Inc.
lxvi+336pp.
$360.00

As the editor’s enlightening essay informs us, Die verdeckten Sachen  (which he translates as “The concealed things”) was the second in a very successful series of operas by Emanuel Schikaneder. The huge volume contains a wealth of information as well as a full libretto of the piece (spoken dialogue and concerted music, with parallel English translation), six pages of critical notes and an appendix with three piano scores of arias that only survive in a piano-vocal score of the piece in the Florence Conservatorio library.

There is no certainty about the identity of the composer of the music; most likely, according to Buch, it was a collaboration between some of the singers in the original cast. That consisted of three sopranos, five tenors and three basses. The orchestra has pairs of flutes, clarinets, bassoons, horns and trumpets as well as strings (including a solo violin that heads for the stratosphere in at least one of the arias) and timpani.

The music is tuneful (the singing voices doubled for much of the time by instrumental lines) and, I imagine, effective in telling the story. I should like to see a production some time – the work’s original success (it was in the repertoire for two decades, and was even translated into Czech!) suggests that it is a good evening’s entertainment.

This is the latest in a sequence of editions of this sort of repertoire from A-R Editions and David J. Buch – fabulous work without which it would be impossible to put Mozart’s music into context. Congratulations to all concerned.

Brian Clark