Meagre times in Salzburg as Turning Point in Mozart’s Biography

Colloredo as new archbishop in Salzburg: Mozart will never come to terms with him…

Il sogno di Scipione

Salzburg Festival 2006 Photo: Klaus Lefebvre
1771
Salzburg
Il sogno di Scipione

Il sogno di Scipione

Salzburg Festival 2006 Photo: Klaus Lefebvre

Returning to Salzburg from Milan, the Mozarts were confronted with the death of Prince-Archbishop Schrattenbach and the reforms of his successor Hieronymus Colloredo. He was the harbinger of meagre times, always striving to save money, and this affected musicians as much as anybody else. Colloredo was an ardent proponent of reforms, inspired by the ideals of enlightenment. He was not fond of the musical framework of holy services, long arias were abolished, church sonatas shortened to a minimum. These were bad times for the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a musician hungry for success and fame as a composer.

Still, the Mozarts were financially dependent on Colloredo and put on a good face over the matter: Mozart dedicated the one-act serenata “Il sogno di Scipione” (The Dream of Scipio) to Colloredo for his homage celebration.

The Dream of Scipio with allusions to Cicero’s “Somnium Scipionis”

The goddesses of luck and consistency appear to the Roman commander Scipio in a dream and demand that he decides in favour of one of them. He is allowed to ascend to the heavens with them, where he meets his father and his grandfather. Both of them make it perfectly clear that there is a mission waiting for him on earth, the destruction of Carthage. For this task, Scipio chooses the deity of consistency.

At the end of the opera it is divulged that Scipio personifies none other than Colloredo himself.

Employment and its effect on Mozart’s biography 

Colloredo appointed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as prince-archiepiscopal concertmaster with an annual salary of 150 guilders. This employment guaranteed a little security. In Mozart’s biography, however, it is also the reason why Wolfgang felt increasingly limited. The desire to leave Salzburg grew stronger and stronger. But first, a journey to Milan awaited …