Oriental Delights Anticipating Mozart’s Operas

“Zanaide” performed in Bad Lauchstädt. © Gert Mothes

Oriental exotics and intrigue, power struggles, impossible love, betrayal and reconciliation – those ingredients have tempted librettists and opera composers alike. How they dealt with it, had very much to do with the conventions of the time, the taste of the audience, and the availability of good singers. When Johann Christian Bach, the youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach, made his debut in London,  he was appalled by the lack of good singers, and though the King’s Theatre asked him in 1762 to write two operas, he initially refused. However, after the audition of several singers, he agreed, and in 1763, he presented an opera that had long been forgotten, and that I have discovered myself only very recently: Zanaida.

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Polyphony and Arias from the Second Bach Generation

Welcome autumn! © Charles Thibo

There is no life without Bach, at least not for me, and the moment you are reading this, I will be far away from home, on the beach, sitting in the sand, looking at the blue sky and doing nothing. Nothing except reading, listening to Bach and perhaps pondering whether I will run once more across the beach and throw myself into the waves. Right, I am on my much deserved vacation while at home the grape harvest has begun and the weather is gradually changing into a familiar grey-with-occasional-rain pattern. Welcome autumn!

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Bach’s Universalism and the Lessons of Munich


I studied in Munich. I learned to love the town and its people. So many funny souvenirs. A great academic experience. So many people I met there; they quickly became friends and most of them still are friends. My thoughts are with the victims, their relatives and the traumatized citizen who witnessed directly or through the media the shooting yesterday at Olympia-Einkaufszentrum. It is not the first time that the Olympic arena becomes sullied by blood. In 1972, during the Summer Olympics, Palestinian terrorists killed several Jewish athletes during a brutal kidnapping action. 44 years later, a murderer, born and raised in Germany, leaves again a trail of devastation on the ground.

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