75 About the signs of the Silence Concerning Mozart's Zauberflöte - Inventing Silence 03

A small sociology of audience behaviour in opera from 1600 to today

(in German only)

The fact that the audience in the opera house is silent as soon as the curtain rises, as soon as the conductor raises his baton, is common practice today, but in the approximately 400-year history of opera in Europe it was by no means so from the beginning. On the contrary - it had to be invented and only became generally accepted from the middle of the 19th century. Before that, opera was only an accessory for an audience that was used to chattering, strolling, eating and drinking, and doing any kind of business in the opera house. Uli Aumüller has tried to reconstruct the original behaviors and to look for the reasons that led to today's standards.

In the third part I would like to tell you the story of silence. The history of silence in opera, from its beginnings until today.

We ask the question: How loud was it at the premiere of Bach's St. John Passion? And what was it like at the premiere of Mozart's Magic Flute? .How does Casanova describe the Parisian audience in the second half of the 18th century?

Music: Overture Orpheus Gluck

The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra played the Overtura to Christoph Willibald Gluck L'Orfeo et Euridice under René Jacobs.

For 200 years - from its birth around the year 1600 until the turn of the century from the 18th to the 19th century - in opera, music has been an important, but not the decisive, matter of a primarily social and societal event. People go to the opera house to see and be seen, the social elite of a city meets there to go about their business, to present themselves according to rank and name - people go to the opera to eat, drink, The three to five hour long opera evenings are more like club evenings with simultaneous music sprinkling - the attention for the events on stage is rather selective, most interested in the performances of the singing stars, the sopranos, the tenors and castratos. In this milieu opera seria thrives, an operatic form in which one performance, one number after another are strung together like a string of pearls - aria - recitative - aria - recitative - interlude - choral singing - recitative - aria and so on. A more complex musical structuring, a musically-dramaturgically demanding structure, as found in the early Monteverdi operas, for example, is forbidden before an audience that listens only occasionally. Star performances attract attention, but then the following pieces are gladly hardly noticed for half an hour.... This attitude changes slowly at the turn of the 19th century and in different regions of Europe in a different form - the silence in the opera houses during the performance establishes itself only in the second half of the 19th century - but the precursors of this change can be traced in the time of the so-called Empfindsamkeit, the Sturm und Drang, i.e. from about 1770.

The meaning of music, and first of all of instrumental music, changes - it is no longer, as in the Baroque, part of a rhetorical technique, of the doctrine of affects - but it is an expression of the feelings, of the soul of the composer or interpreter, it is his sounding innermost - music is no longer the means that supports and elaborates the language, the text of the singers, but it becomes the medium of a language beyond language, of the ahndungsvollen articulation of transcendental experiences. Music - and first of all instrumental music - becomes a substitute religion, listening to music a form of prayer. If Bach's father Johann Sebastian had been alive when his son Carl Philipp Emanuel composed the piano fantasy entitled "The Sensations of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach," he would have asked him: My dear son, who do you think cares about your sensations? Is it not much more our task, in all modesty, with our spirit and our diligence, to praise and glorify God on high as best we are able? - Bach's father would have been astonished to learn how much reverence he, himself, was accorded some one hundred years later - and that people listened to his music with such devotion, as if the glory of God were revealed in it bodily.

Manuskript zur Sendung

Gespräche mit Sven Oliver Müller

Exposé für den geplanten Film

Handwritten script for the planned film

Kritik Süddeutsche Zeitung

This production can be ordered as a CD at the price of 12,80 € from inpetto filmproduktion. Please write a mail to: bestellungen@inpetto-filmproduktion.de

Cast & Crew

Uli Aumüller (Text)
Sven Oliver Müller
Editorial Jounalist
Bettina Winkler