Sunday, April 18, 2010

Places: The Michaelerplatz

The Imperial Square in Vienna, known as The Michaelerplatz, is where a great deal of the action takes place in So Faithful a Heart, for it was there where all of the government buildings and offices were housed, along with the Imperial Palace, known as The Hofburg, the Burgtheater (small building on the far right), and St. Micahel's Parish (which was the Imperial parish). Just across from the Hofburg, across the platz (square), was a small lane which housed all of the Imperial apartments, including the building which housed the apartments used by the Italian Opera Company, which is now 9 Herrengasse (Street of the Lords).

The original Burgtheater was built in 1741 by Empress Maria Theresa, and was the theater which Emperor Joseph II dubbed The German Theater, until he closed down the German Opera Company in 1783 in favor of the more fashionable Italian Opera Company, for which Nancy was hired as the original prima buffa (first comedienne). It was here that Mozart's Italian comic opera Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), premiered on 1 May, 1786, in which Nancy sang the role of Susanna.

St. Michael's Church, dedicated to the Archangel Michael, is one of the oldest churches in Vienna, Austria, and also one of its few remaining Romanesque buildings. In the course of time, there have been many alterations, resulting in its present day aspect, unchanged since 1792. This church, close to the Michaeler wing of the Hofburg, used to be the parish church of the Imperial Court (it was then called called 'Zum heiligen Michael')

Over its long history, spanning more than eight centuries, this church has incorporated a medley of architectonic styles. The church is a late Romanesque, early Gothic building dating from about 1220-1240. There is a document, stating 1221 as the foundation date of the church, but this is most probably a 14th century forgery.

Number 9 Herrengasse was built from 1686 to 1689 for Count Mollard (Reichsgraf von Mollard). In 1760 it was bought by Count Franz Wenzel von Clary-Aldringen. Emperor Joseph II held his famous "round tables" here. It also housed the apartments in which some of the members of the Italian Opera Company resided, including Nancy Storace, Francesco Benucci (the original Figaro), and the Irish tenor, Michael Kelly.  Since 2005 it is used by the Austrian National Library and houses the Globe Museum, the Department of Music and the Department of Planned Languages and Esperanto Museum.

The following is a duet  from Act 1, scene 1 of Le Nozze di Figaro, which opened in the Burgtheater on 1 May, 1786.

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