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The Singing TurkOttoman Power and Operatic Emotions on the European Stage from the Siege of Vienna to the Age of Napoleon$
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Larry Wolff

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780804795777

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804795777.001.0001

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Osmin in Vienna

Osmin in Vienna

Mozart’s ‘Abduction’ and the Centennial of the Ottoman Siege

(p.146) 5 Osmin in Vienna
The Singing Turk

Larry Wolff

Stanford University Press

This chapter discusses the creation of Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio in 1781 and 1782 in the context of the approaching centennial of the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1783. Mozart turned from a serious Turkish subject in the unfinished opera Zaide to a comic Turkish subject in the Abduction, using alla turca musical style. In the Abduction the issue of Osmin’s rage, his inability to master his emotions, was also relevant to Mozart’s own recent conditions of service under Archbishop Colloredo in Salzburg. Singing in the deepest part of the basso range, Ludwig Fischer in the role of Osmin offered a representation of Turkish masculinity that removed all suspicion that Osmin, as overseer of the sultan’s harem, might actually be a eunuch. In fact, eighteenth-century culture kept carefully distinct the dangerously related discourses concerning harem eunuchs, on the one hand, and operatic castrati, on the other.

Keywords:   Abduction from the Seraglio (Mozart), castrati, emotions, eunuchs, Ludwig Fischer, Janissary style (alla turca), Mozart, Osmin (Abduction), Siege of Vienna (1683), Zaide (Mozart)

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