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The Vienna Operas of year 1791 & The Magic Flute

Home of Dexter Edge's Mozart: New Documents, a digital publication of new Mozart documents discovered since 1997:

Historical and computational analysis of the Viennese Opera reception by the public through the study of the Box-Office receipts still surviving. The idea comes from an anonymous correspondent in Vienna, who in 1791 (4 October) wrote to the Bayreuther Zeitung, that the Viennese public had become bored with the recent operas in Burgtheater (one of the two Imperial Court theatres), showing rather much more favour for Mozart's The Magic Flute, which had opened in the suburban Schikaneder's theatre Theater auf der Wieden just on 30 September 1791. The original box-office receipts ledger book of the Burgtheater is found in the library of the Österreichischen Theatermuseums in Vienna, A-Wkm (Kunsthistorisches Museum), M 4000. The analysis of such receipts has been made possible thanks to SW in R language with the add-on packages dplyr, lubridate, and ggplot2, prepared in RStudio using R Markdown and knitr. So the historical and computational analysis covers 60 opera Burgtheater performances from the beginning of the new theatrical season on 26 Apr 1791 (the Tuesday after Easter), to Tue, 4 Oct 1791. Technical analysis of the data loading and management for those scholars interested in such process applied to the historical studies. The first interesting result is that, across a period of 23 weeks, the Burgtheater really presented a poor offer of just 7 operas to the Viennese public with only 2 premieres, all other operas being revived from other seasons: La bella pescatrice (Guglielmi: premiere 26 April 1791: 20 performances) and I zingari in fiera (Paisiello: premiere 18 September 1791: 5 performances); then La molinara (Paisiello: revival: 12 performances), Il pazzo per forza (Weigl: revival: 11 performances), La pastorella nobile (Guglielmi: revival: 5 performances), Le trame deluse (Cimarosa: revival: 4 performances), Il talismano (Salieri: revival: 3 performances). Firstly we discover that in June and July 1791 the Burgtheater effectively offered only 17 opera performances, while for the complete season April-October 1791 it gave a total of 60 performances, however the average receipts for this period was 203 fl 48 kr, showing that the theatre was doing a bit better than the 2 previous seasons 1789-1791 (196 fl 10 kr): but in the end the computational analysis confirms the words of the anonymous correspondent about the crisis of the Burgtheater. In fact, for the August-October 1791 period, it demonstrates that the average receipts became even lower, reaching only 139 fl 17 kr in August. At this point we can create a list of successful operas and not-successful operas, by using the average receipts data (p. 22).
Read the complete article by D. Edge  (

Analyzing Historical Box-Office Receipts Using R and dplyr:
Operas in the Burgtheater, 26 Apr to 4 Oct 1791

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