Brown Derby Ballroom: A Mozart Soirée
Travel back in time inside Waterloo’s newly-restored Brown Derby Ballroom, one of our area’s legendary musical establishments – its elegant interior is the perfect setting for a diverse array of Mozartian gems including the Symphony no. 40. Prior to the concert enjoy the ballroom’s ambience at a special Meet the Artists reception with soloist Suzanne Lommler and Artistic Director (and clarinetist for this concert) Jason Weinberger.
Mozart – Quadrilles and Contredances
Mozart – Arias with Suzanne Lommler
Mozart – Symphony no. 40
Location: The Brown Derby is located at 616 Sycamore St., downtown Waterloo between 4th and 5th Streets (next to My Thai Cuisine and just down the street from Newton’s Café)
Parking: There is free parking on the street and in the parking garage located directly behind the Brown Derby, accessible from 4th and 5th Streets.
Entrances: There are two entrances to the building. The main entrance is on Sycamore St. and the second is through an enclosed walkway entrance on Level E of the parking garage. Patron drop off is available in front of the building and in the parking garage at the walkway entrance. Both entrances are handicap accessible.
Concert seating/length/late seating: All seating is general admission. The concert will be approximately an hour and 20 minutes with a brief intermission. Due to the nature of the event space, patrons arriving more than 5 minutes late will need to use the Sycamore Street entrance.
Amenities: Coat racks and handicap accessible restrooms are available in both the Sycamore Street lobby and the upstairs concert space.
Cancellations: Both concerts are sold out. If you are unable to attend, please contact the office by Wednesday, January 29 for a refund and we will make those seats available to individuals on the waiting list.
Mezzo-soprano Suzanne Lommler has sung the roles of Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, 2nd Lady in Die Zauberflöte, and Dorabella in Così fan tutte with the Hamburger Kammeroper in Germany; while in Hamburg she was a featured artist in the Opernsalon concert series and a soloist in Handel’s Messiah. Suzanne had her New York City debut singing Annio in La Clemenza di Tito under the direction of conductor Julius Rudel, and made her Pittsburgh Opera debut as Melide in Cavalli’s Ormindo.
Suzanne toured Scotland performing recitals with the Edinburgh Quartet and has sung in recital at the Handel House Museum in London. In this country she has been a soloist with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, as well as the Kansas City Symphony, in the Bach Magnificat; with the Cincinnati May Festival in Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, conducted by James Conlon; the Bloomington Early Music Festival; and Orchestra Iowa in the Bach St. John Passion. Committed to song repertoire, she has been a member of the Ravinia Festival’s Steans Institute, under the direction of Margo Garrett; and the Tanglewood Institute.
She has also sung professionally with the Spoleto Festival (Italy), Cincinnati Opera, Portland Opera Repertory Theatre, Florida Grand Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Garsington Opera, and Glyndebourne on Tour.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Contredances, K. 462 and Quadrilles, K. 463
The Mozart family and friends all loved dancing and Wolfgang would spend much of his life composing dance music, from his first juvenile minuets to a very large number of works written in 1791. In fact, one of Mozart’s only regular gigs during his final years in Vienna was writing dance music for royal patrons. While earlier works were intended for ballets and other festivities in Salzburg, Mozart’s later - and most important - dances were written specifically for carnival (the period between Christmas and Lent) activities at the famed Redoutensaal ballroom in Vienna (pictured above).
Both the K. 462 and 463 sets appear to date from the carnival season of 1784. The contredances, originally scored for strings alone, consist of sections of varied length, each played twice. The K. 463 set actually seems to have been written earlier and are scored for two oboes, bassoon, two horns, and strings. It was Constanze’s second husband, Georg Nissan, who had scratched the title “Quadrilles” to Mozart’s manuscript, an interesting notion, in that the Quadrille did not come into fashion until the early nineteenth century. The form of these is simply slow brief minuet - contradance - repeat of minuet. But rather than accept these seemingly simple works as “throwaways,” Ernst Schmid insists that “Here Mozart evolves within the set eight-measure periods a rich and subtle scoring not found anywhere else in his music. Whoever would know Mozart, must hear this music.”
- Brian Hughes
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - ‘Voi che sapete’ from Le Nozze di Figaro
The story of Figaro revolves around the title character’s pending marriage to his beloved Susanna, and the scheming of by his employer, the Count Almaviva, to exercise his “droit de seigneur” (a right to sleep with a servant’s future bride). Through their own curious intrigue, Figaro, Susanna and the Countess eventually halt the count’s philandering.
The aria, “Voi che sapete” is sung by the count’s adolescent page, Cherubino. His obsession with an older woman could be likened to a Mrs. Robinson kind of fixation, except the younger suitor is the pursuer.
This aria is, in fact, (in the drama) a ‘love song’ that the character has written for her. Emma Beatty, of the Royal Opera House, London, speaks of this quite famous aria, ‘A formal song that seems to breaks off into spontaneous asides, Voi che sapete depicts the common enough business of post-pubescent confusion, but with a charm and poignancy peculiar to Mozart. In the hands of someone else, these words could easily be winsome. Here, they’re heartfelt, and affecting.’
- Brian Hughes
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - ‘Parto, ma tu ben mio’ from La Clemenza di Tito
As much as Mozart might have been scoffed at in culturally entrenched Vienna, the Bohemians adored him. Figaro was, at first, a modest success in his adopted home; in Prague it was all the rage. To one of his friends Mozart wrote about the Czech capital, “Here they all about nothing but Figaro. Nothing is played, sung or whistled but Figaro. No opera is drawing likeFigaro. Nothing, nothing but Figaro.” So great was Figaro’s success that Mozart was immediately commissioned to write a new work for the Prague opera house. The result: Don Giovanni.
It should have been no surprise then that the golden city would turn to its favorite composer when considering an opera for the festivities commemorating the coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia. The libretto of La Clemenza di Tito had been written by imperial court poet Pietro Metastasio and set by Antonio Caldara in 1734 (a highly popular text, it would appear no fewer than 45 times between 1734 and 1839). Poet Caterino Mazzola prepared a new version, editing and tightening the original. There is some disagreement whether or not Mozart was the compositional first choice; the Bohemian Estates were more concerned with capable singers, of whom Mozart was not notified until the middle of August 1791 - all for a scheduled September 6 performance!
The story equates the enlightened Leopold with his counterpart in the Roman Empire, Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasianus. The latter, whose own father, Vespasian, had doubts of his ability to effectively rule, proved everyone wrong. His reign included the horrific eruption of Vesuvius (79 AD) and a conflagration and pestilence in Rome (80 AD). Titus’ own clemency included his personal financial support in rebuilding, festivities, and gifts for the populace. All of these qualities were to be showered on the new monarch in Prague. And Mozart’s amazing music would transcend any “opera seria” ever heard.
“Parto, ma tu ben mio,” a soprano aria featuring solo clarinet, is among the most famous arias in the opera. Here Vitellia, daughter of deposed emperor Vitellio, has just asked Sesto (in the original a role for castrato) to assassinate Titus. Sesto, smitten with Vitellia, agrees, singing:
“I go, but, my dearest, make peace again with me. I will be what you would most have me be, do whatever you wish.”
- Brian Hughes
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Symphony no. 40 in g minor, K. 550
During the summer of 1788, Mozart was feverishly working on three works designed for an eventual series of concerts, all with the intention of gaining the still-young composer even greater fame (and the requisite florins in his pocketbook.) Written in less than three months, these works -the symphonies numbers 39 through 41- demonstrate Mozart’s mastery of the form and are undeniably his greatest contributions to the genre. While some have surmised that he never heard these amazing works performed before his untimely and mysterious death in 1791, modern scholarship suggests otherwise. H. B. Robbins Landon has proposed that this symphony must have been performed, as Mozart went to the trouble of re-scoring the work tin 1791 to include clarinets and it is unlikely that he would have made that extra effort for naught.
While the symphony is still popularly known as Mozart’s Fortieth it would be important to note that the g-minor symphony is actually the forty-seventh such work in the Mozart canon. In this, the later version, it is scored for flute and pairs of clarinets, bassoons, horns with strings.
As Mozart’s works became better known across the European continent they would embody the blossoming Romantic spirit. Alfred Einstein, in Mozart: His Character, His Work, writes of this composition:
Nowhere does Mozart’s independence of Haydn show itself so strikingly as in this work … . Even the turn to B-flat major in the exposition of the first movement has something fierce and weary about it, and when, in the recapitulation, the flute, bassoon and strings return to the minor, they do so with the finality of the pronouncement of Minos … . the finality of both is the result of their developments … . which are plunges into the abyss of the soul, symbolized in modulations so bold that to Mozart’s contemporaries they must have seemed to lode their way entirely, and so distant that only Mozart himself could find the path back from them into the light of day.
From the first note to the last, the g-minor symphony is truly an amazing work. The first movement, Molto Allegro, leaps into action with no introduction and one of the composer’s most memorable themes. The expected second theme, in the major, lasts hardly long enough to allow for repose and although Mozart ends the section in the major key, he immediately sets up the return to a darker tonality. The development section is probably one of Mozart’s lengthiest and shows his employment of motivic and harmonic expansion at the highest level. Probably no other work of Mozart’s is full of such angst and emotional fire. More sharp harmonic turns occur in the recapitulation as Mozart fights to remain in the “home key,” ending with rapid passagework and a brief final chord.
One would expect the second movement, Andante, offers a bit of tranquility. In a lilting 6/8 time (with a theme strangely akin to Beethoven’s first symphony), the rapid 32nd note figurations set the stage for further traversals through a variety of different key areas, both light and dark. This is especially true of the second section, where Mozart travels instantly from B-flat to C-flat, and then vaults into distant minor keys. Unlike the rest of the symphony, this movement does finish gently and serenely.
The third movement, the expected minuet and trio, demonstrates Mozart’s hand at contrapuntal writing. Einstein writes of this movement that “For Mozart, counterpoint always remained a serious matter … . [in this movement] one thinks one hears four or five voices; there are only two.” Mozart’s incredible ability to overlap the voicing here creates an almost mind-boggling cavalcade of sound, eclipsed only by the astounding finale of the “Jupiter” Symphony.
The finale, Allegro assai, is yet another symphonic tour-de-force, a perpetual motion from beginning to end. Rapid-fire string figuration is ubiquitous here, resting for only a brief moment in the lyrical second theme, but quickly tearing forth. Like the first movement, the development launches into wildly divergent and shocking sonic areas and again this portion of the work is nearly a third of the total measures. Mozart drives the g-minor symphony with a blaze of sound and fury of expression.
“When the eighteenth century wished to express earnestness and tragedy, it was always bound by convention,” wrote Einstein, “but in the symphony, over and above this, it was bound by the specific tradition of the buffo style. Remembering this, we can truly appraise the tremendous achievement represented by the g-minor symphony.”
- Brian Hughes