W.A. Mozart (1756-1791)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an Austrian composer, violinist, pianist, organist, and child prodigy. His talent for music was evident at the age of three. Mozart composed a wide variety of music ranging from little piano pieces for children to chamber music, symphonies, operas, and sacred choral music.
Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben comes from W.A. Mozart’s opera Zaide (originally called Das Serail) which was written by Mozart in 1780. The opera was never completed. Only the arias and ensemble numbers from the first two acts were written. There is no overture or third act.
The opera is interesting because it contains spoken dialogue which means that it can also be classified as a singspiel, or “singing play.” The plot of the opera is about the rescue of Zaide’s husband, Gomatz. During Mozart’s time it was popular for operas to be written about Westerners being rescued from enslavement in Muslim courts. Muslim pirates were going after Mediterranean shipping in order to capture slaves.
Dame Emma Kirkby (1949-)
Dame Emma Kirkby is an English soprano and a renowned early music specialist. The 2008 Grove Book of Opera Singers says:
“Her uncommonly pure, crystalline voice, deployed with minimal vibrato, her natural declamation, agile coloratura and her sensitivity to words have been widely admired by interpreters of early, Renaissance and Baroque music and have served as a model for many specialists in this repertory.”
Here is a recording of Dame Emma Kirkby singing Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben from Mozart’s Zaide accompanied by the Academy of Ancient Music conducted by Christopher Hogwood. I hope that you enjoy it.