Mozart was eleven years old when he wrote "Apollo et Hyacinthus" K. 38 and
"Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots" (The Obligation to Observe the First
Commandment) K. 35 in 1767. Their brevity and contemporaneity made it seem
fitting to entrust them to one director for their stage interpretations
within the Mozart 22 project. John Dew, known and admired for his
rediscoveries of long-neglected works and his highly imaginative
productions, has created a semi-ironic framework that ideally suits the two
little pieces. They are given graceful musical accompaniment by the
Symphony Orchestra of the Mozarteum University.
"Apollo et Hyacinthus" is Mozart's very first operatic venture and was
commissioned soon after the successful performance of "Schuldigkeit".
"Apollo" is a Latin intermezzo that was intended as an insert between the
prologue and the five-act school drama "Clementia Croesi". Curiously, it
already contains many of the themes that would recur in Mozart's later
operas: disguise, intrigue, transformation, self-discovery¿ The plot
concerns Zephyrus' love for Melia, who is about to marry Apollo. In his
jealousy, Zephyrus gravely wounds Hyacinthus with a discus and, to have
Apollo banished, accuses Apollo of murder. Apollo, how saw Zephyrus throw
the discus, turns the true culprit into a wind. The dying Hyacinthus
reveals the truth and Apollo consoles the mouring family by changing their
son into a flower.
"Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots" is an allegorical drama in three parts
that was first performed in the Archibishop's residence in March 1767.
Mozart composed the first part. The work is an offshoot of the 17th-century
tradition of the Jesuit school drama in which the characters are purely
symbolic. Here, the "lukewarm Christian" becomes the object of contention
between two authorities. Worldliness tempts him with the pleasures of the
senses; a trio formed by Justice, Mercy and Christian Spirit urges him to
choose an active Christian life. Mozart included such subtle musical
touches as a 3/4 dance rhythm and merry woodwinds deployed by Worldliness
and an alto trombone that summons the hero to the Last Judgement - an
instrumental color that will appear prominently in "Don Giovanni"¿