Schikaneder, the latest full-length musical from Stephen Schwartz, the composer of Wicked, Godspell and Pippin, among many other shows and movies, opens September 30 at the Raimund Theater in Vienna, Austria. Previews for the world-premiere production began September 19.
The show tells the story of Mozart's frequent collaborator, Emanuel Schikaneder, librettist for The Magic Flute and other operas. The project was previously titled Emanuel and Eleonore. Tony winner Trevor Nunn directs. The libretto for Schikaneder was written in English and then translated into German by Michael Kunze, who previously translated Wicked into German.
The production posted a clip from the show. Leads Mark Siebert and Milica Jovanović sing ”Träum groß” (“Dream Big”) in Austrian German:
The composer and leading performers previously offered samples from the show at a May 10 press converence in Vienna. Here is a video of the entire press conference, which was conducted primarily in German.
However, librettist Christian Struppeck conducted an interview with Schwartz in English, and it can be heard starting at the 8:43 minute mark.
Schwartz then sat at a piano and played samples of several Schikaneder songs, featuring his music and lyrics, also offered in English, starting at the 14:11 mark.
The event was capped with a fully orchestrated performance of one of the show's complete songs by stars Mark Siebert and Milia Jovanovic, who sang in German, starting at the 51:09 mark.
In an exclusive 2015 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.
The Raimund Theater posted an interview with Schwartz in English:
So why Vienna?
That's where librettist Struppeck, also general artistic director of the Raimund Theatre and the Ronacher Theatre, comes in. “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.”
(Updated September 30, 2016)