The Jewel Box

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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,[1] on 19 February 1991. The conductor was Elgar Howarth, the director was Francisco Negrin and the designer was Anthony Baker.[2]


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.[3]

Performance history[edit]

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.[4]


Roles, voice types, premiere cast
Role Voice type Premiere cast, 19 February 1991
Conductor: Elgar Howarth
Colombina soprano Mary Hegarty
Composer mezzo-soprano Pamela Helen Stephen
Singer soprano Jennifer Rhys-Davies
Dottore tenor Mark Curtis
Pantalone baritone Quentin Hayes
Pedrolino tenor Barry Banks
Father bass Stephen Richardson


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.[5]

Musical numbers[edit]

Act 1[edit]

Number Description First line Singer(s) Source Notes
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

Act 2[edit]

Number Description First line Singer(s) Source Notes
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


  1. ^ Paul Griffiths: words and music
  2. ^ Leeks, Stuart, ed. (2003). Opera North @ 25. Leeds: Opera North.
  3. ^ "These the gems of Heav'n", essay by Griffiths on Bampton Classical Opera's website
  4. ^ 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..
  5. ^ 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.