‘Das Serail’ (c. 1779) by Joseph Friebert in historical, socio-political and cultural context(s)

International Interdisciplinary Symposium

of Don Juan Archiv Wien, University Mozarteum Salzburg/ Mozart Opera Studies Institute, Salzburg Global Seminar



Salzburg, 19–21 May 2016

Call for Papers

Don Juan Archiv Wien, as the tenant of the only existing copy of the manuscript of newly-discovered Singspiel Das Serail (c. 1779) by Joseph Friebert (1724, Gnadendorf, Niederösterreich–1799, Passau), in cooperation with University Mozarteum Salzburg/ Mozart Opera Studies Institute and Salzburg Global Seminar invites you to attend the International Interdisciplinary Symposium on May 19–21, 2016, at the Castle Frohnburg in Salzburg, Austria. In the framework of the symposium, the concert of the Mozart Opera Studies Institute will be held at the Leopoldskron Castle in Salzburg on May 19, 2016.

The focus of the consideration is Josef Friebert and his life and work in the wider context of his time. Having received his education in music at the Melk Abbey (1743–1745), Friebert moved to Vienna and continued studying with Giuseppe (Joseph) Bonno. He first became a successful tenor in the 1750s, with the operas of Christoph Willibald Gluck (Le cinesi, 1754; La danza, 1755) and from 1755 to 1764 he was engaged as a singer at the Vienna Burgtheater and the Kärntnertortheater. As an influential Hofkapellmeister at the prince archbishop’s court in Passau (1763–1796), Friebert was also a composer. His career as a performer is mainly known through to his engagements as a singer and his contributions to the Passau’s musical life, which include his stage works (six lost Italian operas performed between 1764 and1774: Angelica e Medoro, Dafne vendicata, Il componimento, Il natale di Giove, La Galatea and La Zenobia, in part obviously after libretti by Pietro Metastasio) and the 1789 German-language premieres of W. A. Mozart’s operas Le nozze di Figaro (1786) and Don Giovanni (1787). Friebert also composed Singspiele, although most probably not for the Passau stage. However, except for his vocal arrangement of Joseph Haydn’s instrumental Die Sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze (1787), Friebert’s compositional output remained almost unknown, his numerous works lost.

With the discovery of the only existing eighteenth-century manuscripts-copies of his three Singspiele – Das Serail (c. 1779), as well as Nanerl bey Hof (c. 1774) and partly Adelstan und Röschen (c. 1774), all three in the possession of the Don Juan Archiv Wien – it is possible to open an important chapter in the history of Austrian/Southern German music, concerning the production, performance and perception of these compositions; Friebert’s activities and his opus; performance history in his time and the perception of his Singspiele in the context of musical life in Vienna, Passau and elsewhere. As the compositional and performance practice were closely related, with composers writing music for certain singers, the activities of itinerant music troupes (journeys, repertoire, members) and their directors are especially recommended as a research topic. Friebert’s Singspiel Das Serail was a model for Mozart’s early stage works in the German language (Zaide, 1780; Die Entführung aus dem Serail, 1782). Stage works of these composers can also be (re)considered in the context of both ideological (philosophical and aesthetical treatises, essays and criticism) and technical (compositional procedures and musical means, mainly defined by stylistic topoi) models of semiotically defined music discourse.

On the broad basis of the defined thematic circles, the following subjects, formulated from the focus to the context, are welcome:

I. Joseph Friebert: Life and work

1) Biographical coordinates:

* the life and work of Joseph Friebert in the light of newly accomplished archival research;

* the family history, especially the activities of his brother Carl Friebert;

2) Singer and conductor:

* Friebert’s contribution to the musical life of Vienna and Passau, and the perception of his work as a singer and a Hofkapellmeister and conductor;

* mapping music theatre life in the second half of the eighteenth century for the cities related to Friebert’s studies and professional activities (Melk; Burgtheater and the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna; Passau);

* itinerant music theatre troupes (repertoire, journeys, members-singers, directors);

3) Composer:

* reconstruction of the historical context based on the results of recent archival research, which should provide a correction of the incomplete or inaccurate data about Friebert’s Singspiele in literature (list and dating of works, performance history);

II. The Singspiel Das Serail in focus

Analysis of libretto and music; performance history (reconstruction of known or possible performances in Passau, Mainz, Erlangen, Nuremberg, Wels and so on); children’s itinerant theatre troupes led by Franz Joseph Sebastiani and Felix Berner; perception of the stage work;

1) Libretto studies:

* comparison and study of three versions of the libretto text: Das Serail. Oder: Die unvermuthete Zusammenkunft in der Sclaverey zwischen Vater, Tochter und Sohn (Bozen 1779) by Franz Joseph Sebastiani, Arien welche gesungen werden in der Opera genannt Das Seraile, in zwey Aufzügen aufgeführt von den jungen Schauspielern unter der Direction des Herrn Felix Berner. Die Musik ist von Herrn Fribert, s. l. [Nürnberg] 1778), and the version provided in the manuscript copy from 1779;

* sources of the plot: the story of abducted Christian European girls, their stay in a harem and their liberation through different embodiments of deus ex machina, leading always to a conventional happy ending, inspired numerous eighteenth-century librettists and composers to create their own versions in different languages; these constructed imaginative depiction of „Oriental“ were immensely popular (Alain René Lesage and d’Orneval, Voltaire and, among others, Michael Haydn, Louis Dancourt and C. W. Gluck; Carl Frieberth and Joseph Haydn; J. A. Schachtner and W. A. Mozart, to name only some of the librettists and composers); the immense popularity of these constructed, imaginative “Oriental” depictions;

* language and dramaturgy of libretto, political context, constructed image of the Orient, characterization of personage;

* analysis of conventional topoi: abduction to serail, liberation from the harem, the category of the unexpected in the eighteenth-century theatre narrative (especially unexpected encounters), hint of incest, merciful rulers and others.

2) Music research:

* musical dramaturgy, conventional style topoi and specific elements, musical image of the Orient, “authentic” Austrian self-representation, musical characterization of the protagonists, instrumentation, performance practice of the work;

* instrumentation: specific instrumental ensemble from Friebert’s Singspiel Das Serail was used earlier by Haydn and Mozart in their early symphonies of the 1750s and 1760s, as well as by other composers;

* comparative analysis of Friebert’s Das Serail with W. A. Mozart’s Singspiele Zaide (1780), Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782) as well as with the opera Le nozze di Figaro (1786);

* critical edition of an eighteenth-century stage work in the light of the edition of Friebert’s Singspiel in preparation: methodological questions.

Papers should be based on original research and should not have already been presented elsewhere. Paper presentation should not extent beyond thirty minutes, including audio and audio-visual materials, and will be followed by a ten-minute discussion. The official languages of the symposium are German, English and Italian.

Musicologists, theatre and literary scholars as well as linguists are encouraged to submit proposals of up to 200 words to the e-mail address <office(at)donjuanarchiv(dot)at>. Proposals for panel presentations are also welcome.

The deadline for submission of all proposals is January 31, 2016.

The Program Committee will inform the authors of submissions about their decision by February 25. The participants, whose papers are chosen, by taking part in the conference, assume the obligation of submitting their papers in the language of the presentation by September 30, 2016 in accordance to the style sheet of the Hollitzer Wissenschaftsverlag.



Conference venue. The seventeenth-century Frohnburg castle, known as a location featured in the movie The Sound of Music, is a ten-minute bus ride on public transport from the city center.

Concert venue. The palace Leopoldskron is only a short walk from the old town of Salzburg.


Program Committee

Reinhard Eisendle

Michael Hüttler

Tatjana Marković

Hans Ernst Weidinger