"It's the German spelling," explained the composer of Wicked, Godspell and Pippin, among many other shows and movies. And that's appropriate because the show tells the story of Mozart's frequent collaborator, Emanuel Schikaneder, librettist for The Magic Flute and other operas, and is scheduled to premiere in Vienna, Austria, in fall 2016.
In an exclusive interview with Playbill.com, Schwartz described the show as, "sort of a backstage musical romantic comedy. It takes place in the 1790s, and it's based on real people: Emanuel Schikaneder and his rather tempestuous relationship with his wife."
Eleonore was a leading lady in Schikaneder's company, and a major influence on his writing, but that never stopped him from numerous infidelities that complicated both their personal and professional lives.
So why Vienna?
That's where librettist Christian Struppeck is general artistic director of the Raimund Theatre and the Ronacher Theatre. "I've known Christian for a long time," Schwartz said. "He came to me with this idea, which I really liked." They met when Struppeck was an actor and Schwartz was working on his stage adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which debuted in Germany.
What did Schwartz like about the idea? "Well, there's a spoiler about it that I'm not going to spoil — like the spoilers in Wicked. There is really a cool surprise."
Schwartz and Struppeck have finished Act I and are now working on Act II. Schwartz is in London this week to work with Struppeck and Tony winner Trevor Nunn, who is scheduled to direct Emanuel and Eleonore.
The libretto is being written in English and will subsequently be translated into German by Michael Kunze, who translated Wicked into German. "He's absolutely brilliant," Schwartz said.