The Jewel Box is a pasticcio opera constructed by Paul Griffiths out of various pieces by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Its mostly English libretto by Paul Griffiths includes new translations of most of the Italian-language texts of the musical numbers. It was premiered by Opera North at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham, on 19 February 1991. The conductor was Elgar Howarth, the director was Francisco Negrin and the designer was Anthony Baker.
Griffiths, realising that arias composed by Mozart for insertion in other composers' operas are seldom performed nowadays, worked up what he called "a jeu d'esprit" which also contained music from the composer's unfinished operas Lo sposo deluso and L'oca del Cairo and some of the arias which he had written for concert performances. This came to the attention of Nicholas Payne, General Director of Opera North, who scheduled its première for 1991, the year of the bicentenary of Mozart's death.
After the Nottingham premiere and subsequent performances in Opera North's territory of northern England, the opera was performed in the United States by Skylight Opera Theatre (1993), Wolf Trap Opera (1994), Chicago Opera Theater (1996), and New Jersey State Opera (1996). In England, it was revived by Bampton Classical Opera in 2006 for the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, with the orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast, 19 February 1991|
Conductor: Elgar Howarth
|Composer||mezzo-soprano||Pamela Helen Stephen|
Four characters from the commedia dell'arte (Dottore, Pantalone, Colombina and Pedrolino) open the opera with a quartet. There is no more music, so the Dottore summons the Composer, who, with the aid of a singer of tragic music and his own father, gradually works out how the opera should go. The opera ends with an epilogue sung by the Composer.
|1||Overture||from Lo sposo deluso, K.430||Wind parts probably not by Mozart|
|2||Quartet||Colombina, Pedrolino, Dottore, Pantalone||from Lo sposo deluso||Wind parts probably not by Mozart|
|3||Aria||"You avow that you'll be faithful"||Colombina||"Voi avete un cor fedele", K.217||possibly for insertion into Galuppi's Le nozze di Dorina|
|4||Aria||"Can no-one explain it?"||Composer||"Chi sà qual sia", K.582||For insertion into Martín y Soler's Il burbero di buon cuore|
|5||Aria||"Ah, se in ciel, benigne stelle"||Singer||K.583||possibly an entr'acte for C. P. E. Bach's "Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu"|
|6||Aria||"The goddess of fortune"||Pedrolino||"Si mostra la sorte", K.209||probably for insertion into an opera buffa|
|7||Arietta||"A kiss on the fingers"||Pantalone||"Un bacio di mano", K.541||for insertion into Anfossi's Le gelosie fortunate|
|8||Quartet||Colombina, Pedrolino, Dottore, Pantalone||"Mandina amabile", K.480||for insertion into Francesco Bianchi's La villanella rapita|
|9||Recitative and aria||"This is the one I'm seeking"||Father||"Alcandro, lo confesso", K.512||concert aria|
|10||Aria||"This young composer"||Dottore||"Clarice cara", K.256||probably for insertion into Piccinni's L'astratto, ovvero Il giocator fortunato|
|11||Aria||"Souls of greatness and noble spirits"||Composer||"Alma grande e nobil cor", K.578||for insertion into Cimarosa's I due baroni di Rocca Azzurra|
|12||Quartet||Colombina, Pedrolino, Dottore, Pantalone||"Dite almeno in che mancai", K.479||for insertion as in no. 8 above|
|13||Trio||Colombina, Pantalone, Father||from L'oca del Cairo, K.422||scoring and completion possibly by Simon Mayr|
|14||Aria||"Take a look at Pantalone"||Pantalone||"Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo", K.584, removed from Così fan tutte|
|15||Gigue||"Eine kleine Gigue", K.574|
|16||Aria||"Do not ask, in all compassion"||Pedrolino||"Per pietà, non ricercate" K.420||for insertion into Anfossi's Il curioso indiscreto|
|17||Aria||"No, che non sei capace"||Singer||"No, che non sei capace", K.419||for insertion as in No. 16 above|
|18||Aria||"Onward? Still further?"||Composer||"Vado, ma dove", K.583||for insertion as in No. 4 above|
|19||Recitative and aria||"Enough. It's over"||Colombina||"Basta! Vincesti", K.486a||concert aria|
|20||Trio||Colombina, Pedrolino, Pantalone||from Lo sposo deluso|
|21||Aria||"With due reverence and respect, sir"||Dottore||"Con ossequio, con rispetto", K.210||probably for insertion as in No. 10 above|
|22||Two andantes||a sketch for mechanical organ, K.615a, and a reprise from No. 1 above||the first andante was adapted for orchestra by Elgar Howarth|
|23||Aria||"By what this hand's creating"||Father||"Per questa bello mano", K.612||concert aria with double-bass obbligato|
|24||Aria||"Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio!"||Singer||K.418||for insertion as in No. 16 above|
|25||German Dance||K.571, no. 6|
|26||Epilogue||"Now take my thanks"||Composer||"Nehmt meinen Dank", K.383||concert aria|
- Paul Griffiths: words and music
- Leeks, Stuart, ed. (2003). Opera North @ 25. Leeds: Opera North.
- "These the gems of Heav'n", essay by Griffiths on Bampton Classical Opera's website
- Dunnett, Roderic (23 September 2002). "Waiting for Figaro: St John's, Smith Square, London". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2022-06-18. Retrieved 31 March 2020..
- This synopsis and the following list of musical numbers are based on information in the programme for two preview performances which took place on 7 and 11 January 1991, at the Grand Theatre, Leeds.