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Strauss: Capriccio, Prelude

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: Not exactly a diva.

Richard Strauss’s 15th and last opera, Capriccio, is based on a short comedy first set to music by Antonio Salieri, Mozart’s legendary rival. The prologue, which we just heard, is the music that sets in motion the action of the play. In Capriccio, a composer and poet not only squabble over whether the music and or text is more important in opera, but they are also vying for the affections of the beautiful Countess Madeleine. In order to keep things from getting too far out of hand, the Countess tries to calm everybody at the end of Act I by ordering chocolate all around! After some a good cup of hot cocoa and some more heated discussions, everyone realizes that both music and text are essential in opera and one simply cannot survive without the other. The author of the comedy that forms the basis for Strauss’s opera was Giovanni Batista Casti, himself a rival of Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte.

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