Bastien und Bastienne

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Bastien und Bastienne
one-act singspiel by W. A. Mozart
Francois Boucher - Shepherd and Shepherdess Reposing - WGA02915.jpg
Shepherd and Shepherdess Reposing (1761), by François Boucher
Based onLes Amours de Bastien et Bastienne by Justine Favart and Harny de Guerville

Bastien und Bastienne (Bastien and Bastienne), K. 50 (revised in 1964 to K. 46b) is a one-act singspiel, a comic opera, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The Köchel catalogue is a chronological catalogue of compositions by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, originally created by Ludwig von Köchel, in which the entries are abbreviated K., or KV. The numbers of the Köchel catalogue reflect the continuing establishment of a complete chronology of Mozart's works, and provide a shorthand reference to the compositions.

Singspiel opera genre

A Singspiel is a form of German-language music drama, now regarded as a genre of opera. It is characterized by spoken dialogue, which is alternated with ensembles, songs, ballads, and arias which were often strophic, or folk-like. Singspiel plots are generally comic or romantic in nature, and frequently include elements of magic, fantastical creatures, and comically exaggerated characterizations of good and evil.

Opera Artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.


Bastien und Bastienne was one of Mozart's earliest operas, written in 1768 when he was only twelve years old. It was allegedly commissioned by Viennese physician and 'magnetist' Dr. Franz Mesmer (who himself would later be parodied in Così fan tutte ) as a satire of the 'pastoral' genre then prevalent, and specifically as a parody of the opera Le devin du village by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. [1] The German libretto is by Friedrich Wilhelm Weiskern, Johann Heinrich Friedrich Müller  [ de ] and Johann Andreas Schachtner, based on Les Amours de Bastien et Bastienne by Justine Favart and Harny de Guerville. After its supposed premiere in Mesmer's garden theater (that is only corroborated by an unverified account of Nissen), it was not revived again until 1890. It is not clear whether this piece was performed in Mozart's lifetime. The first known performance was on 2 October 1890 at Architektenhaus in Berlin. [2]

Franz Mesmer German physician

Franz Friedrich Anton Mesmer was a German doctor with an interest in astronomy. He theorised the existence of a natural energy transference occurring between all animated and inanimate objects; this he called "animal magnetism", sometimes later referred to as mesmerism. Mesmer's theory attracted a wide following between about 1780 and 1850, and continued to have some influence until the end of the 19th century. In 1843 the Scottish doctor James Braid proposed the term "hypnosis" for a technique derived from animal magnetism; today the word "mesmerism" generally functions as a synonym of "hypnosis".

<i>Così fan tutte</i> Italian language opera buffa by Mozart

Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti, K. 588, is an Italian-language opera buffa in two acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart first performed on 26 January 1790 at the Burgtheater in Vienna, Austria. The libretto was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte who also wrote Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni.

<i>Le devin du village</i> opera

Le devin du village is a one-act French opera (intermède) by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who also wrote the libretto. It was the first work in the repertory of the Académie Royale de Musique for which the text and music were by the same author.

The opera is written in both French and German manners. Many of the melodies are French in manner, but Bastienne's first aria is true German lied. This melody is also used in Mozart's Trio in G for Piano, Violin and Violoncello, K. 564 (1788). Another purely German lied is Bastienne's aria "I feel certain of his heart". [1] Mozart utilizes the orchestra sparingly, with the exception of the reconciliation scene. [1]

Lied musical form

The lied is a term in the German vernacular to describe setting poetry to classical music to create a piece of polyphonic music. The term is used for songs from the late fourteenth or early fifteenth centuries or even to refer to Minnesang from as early as the 12th and 13th centuries. It later came especially to refer to settings of Romantic poetry during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and into the early twentieth century. Examples include settings by Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Hugo Wolf or Richard Strauss. Among English speakers, however, "lied" is often used interchangeably with "art song" to encompass works that the tradition has inspired in other languages. The poems that have been made into lieder often center on pastoral themes or themes of romantic love.

The opening theme of Mozart's overture resembles that of the first movement of Beethoven's Symphony no. 3, Eroica (in a different key). It is unlikely that Beethoven was familiar with Mozart's youthful opera. In any case, opening a movement with an arpeggio of the tonic chord was an extremely common occurrence in the Classical period. The resemblance is likely coincidental.

Symphony No. 3 (Beethoven) work by Ludwig van Beethoven

The Symphony No. 3 in E major, Op. 55, is a symphony in four movements by Ludwig van Beethoven. One of the composer's most celebrated works, the Eroica symphony is a large-scale composition that marked the beginning of Beethoven's creative middle-period.

Although he was very young, Mozart already had excellent vocal writing skills and a knack for parody and whimsy which would reach full flower in his later works. Bastien und Bastienne is possibly the easiest to perform of Mozart's juvenile works.


Role Voice type Premiere cast, 2 October 1890
(Conductor: – )
Bastienne, a shepherdess soprano
Bastien, her lover tenor
Colas, a quack magician bass


Place: A pastoral village
Time: Indeterminate

Bastienne, a shepherdess, fears that her "dearest friend", Bastien, has forsaken her for another pretty face, and decides to go into the pasture to be comforted by her flock of lambs.

Before she can leave, however, she runs into Colas, the village soothsayer. Bastienne requests the help of his magical powers to help win back her Bastien. Colas (being a soothsayer) knows all about the problem, and comforts her with the knowledge that Bastien has not abandoned her, rather, he's merely been distracted lately by 'the lady of the manor'. His advice is to act coldly towards Bastien, which will make him come running back.

Bastien is heard approaching, so Bastienne hides herself. Bastien swaggers in, proclaiming how much he loves Bastienne. Colas informs him that Bastienne has a new lover. Bastien is shocked and asks the magician for help.

Colas opens his book of spells and recites a nonsense aria filled with random syllables and Latin quotations. Colas declares the spell a success and that Bastienne is in love with Bastien once more. Bastienne, however, decides to keep up the game a bit longer and spurns Bastien with great vehemence. Bastien threatens suicide, which Bastienne merely shrugs off.

Finally, the two decide that they have gone far enough and agree to reconcile. Colas joins them as they all sing a final trio in praise of the magician.

Noted arias


(Bastien, Bastienne, Colas)
Label [3]
Catalogue number
c. 1940 [4] Paul Derenne
Martha Angelici
André Monde
Gustave Cloëz
Orchestre du Conservatoire de Paris
78rpm set: L'Anthologie Sonore
Cat: FA 801-806 [5]
1952 Waldemar Kmentt
Ilse Hollweg
Walter Berry
Sir John Pritchard
Wiener Symphoniker
LP: Philips
Cat: ABL 3010
1956Richard Holm
Rita Streich
Toni Blankenheim
Christoph Stepp
Münchner Kammerorchester
CD: Deutsche Grammophon
Cat: 474 738 2
1957Three soloists of Wiener Sängerknaben Edouard Lindenberg
Wiener Kammerorchester
LP: Philips
1965 Peter Schreier
Adele Stolte
Theo Adam
Helmut Koch
Kammerorchester Berlin
CD: Berlin Classics
Cat: 0091292 BC
1969Thomas Lehrberger
Ileana Cotrubaș
Peter van der Bilt
Leopold Hager
Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg
Cat: C 705061 B
1976Claes H. Ahnsjo
Edith Mathis
Walter Berry
Leopold Hager
Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg
LP: Deutsche Grammophon
Cat: 2537 038
1976 Adolf Dallapozza
Brigitte Lindner
Kurt Moll
Eberhard Schoener
Bayerisches Staatsorchester
LP: EMI Electrola
Cat: 1C 065 30231
1986Three soloists of Wiener Sängerknaben:
Dominik Orieschnig
Georg Nigl
David Busch
Uwe Christian Harrer
Wiener Symphoniker
CD: Philips
Cat: 422 527-2
1989 Vinson Cole
Edita Gruberová
László Polgár
Raymond Leppard
Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra
CD: Sony Classical
Cat: 45855
1990Ralph Eschrig
Dagmar Schellenberger
René Pape
Max Pommer
Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Leipzig
CD: Berlin Classics
Cat: 0010102BC
1991Dongkyu Choy
Eva Kirchner
Thomas Müller De Vries
René Clemencic
Alpe Adria Ensemble
CD: Nuova Era
Cat: 7344
2006Bernhard Berchtold
Evmorfia Metaxaki
Radu Cojocariu
Elisabeth Fuchs
Junge Philharmonie Salzburg
DVD: Deutsche Grammophon
Cat: 000440 073 4244 2

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 Bastien et Bastienne (Media notes). Paul Derenne, Martha Angelici, André Monde, Gustave Cloëz orchestra. L'Anthologie Sonore. 1940. FA 801-806.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. History of the opera from
  3. "Bastien und Bastienne discography". Archived from the original on 14 October 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  4. Roberge, Pierre-F. "W. A. Mozart: Bastien et Bastienne". Medieval Music & Arts Foundation. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
  5. Settlemier, Tyrone (March 7, 2012). "L'Anthologie sonore 78rpm numerical listing discography". The Online Discographical Project. Retrieved June 21, 2012.


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