Zaide
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Singspiel in two acts, unfinished. 1780.
  • Libretto by Johann Andreas Schachtner, after Das Serail (The Seraglio) by Franz Josef Sebastiani.
  • First performance in Frankfurt on 27th January 1866.
CHARACTERS

Zaide

soprano

Gomatz

tenor

Allazim

bass

Sultan Soliman

tenor

Osmin

bass

Zaram, Captain of the Guard

speaking part

Four Slaves

tenors

Gomatz, enslaved, sleeps after his work, watched by the Sultan’s favourite Zaide. They fall in love. With the help of Allazim, they escape. The Sultan expresses his anger. The lovers are captured and Zaide acknowledges the Sultan’s former generosity, although she prefers freedom. She pleads for the life of her lover, and Allazim tells the Sultan of the brotherhood of man. It may be supposed that a magnanimous gesture from the Sultan would have ensued.

The full text of Mozart’s unfinished opera is lost. Written in 1780, it may be seen as the precursor of Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio), which he set two years later, when he had established himself in Vienna. The libretto of Zaide was written by Johann Andreas Schachtner, court trumpeter in Salzburg, a friend of the Mozart family. The title Zaide dates from the publication of the existing music in 1838/9 by Johann André, presumably to avoid confusion with Die Entführung aus dem Serail, but it is not certain that Mozart and Schachtner would have used the title Das Serail, in any case, although a work of this title was its original literary source. Zaide lacks an overture, spoken dialogue, apart from the necessary cues and the words for Gomatz’s Melologo (melodrama – speech accompanied by music), and the expected third act, a conclusion to the drama. The surviving music consists of 15 numbers. The best-known aria from the work is Zaide’s Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben (Sleep softly, my dear one), as she watches over the sleeping Gomatz. Unlike the later work, Zaide makes no attempt at pseudo-Turkish music, although it may be supposed that there would have been some place in the completed opera for the Turkish effects with which Mozart and his contemporaries were very familiar.