Sylvia Milo as Nunnery Mozart in The Other Mozart
Written and performed by Sylvia Milo, The Other Mozart moves chronologically through the life of Maria Anna Mozart. Nannerl and her musical abilities were oppressed by a society in which some people thought uterine bleeding affected blood flow to the brain, which meant women couldn’t think properly.
Having been established as one of the greatest harpsichord players in all of Europe by the age of 12, she was not allowed to play in public once she reached a marriageable age because it wasn’t becoming. Her social position was not significant enough to override the prevailing social expectations.
The themes in the show were decidedly feminine but not feminist. There was no preaching. There was no condemnation. There was only a telling of the story and the audience was left to draw their own conclusions.
Yes, the way in which the story was told influenced those conclusions, but I didn’t feel as though anyone were vilified. While Papa Mozart (Leopold) is often portrayed as controlling and autocratic he also educated Nannerl far beyond what could be considered normal.
Besides her world-class musical abilities and a younger brother who was one of the greatest geniuses of all time, Nannerl had to reconcile her experiences of traveling the length and breadth of Europe with the mundane cycles of household management.
She had to fit her expansive world into the repressive world of keeping the house of a petty-baron named Johann Baptist Franz von Berchtold zu Sonnenburg and his five children from two previous marriages. Nannerl became a domestic manager at the age of 33.
We will never know if we could have had two Mozarts. None of her music survived and almost none of her letters. The letters of Papa and Wolfgang survived, and Nannerl is mentioned in them from time to time.
I now wonder what the case would have been if Wolfgang were not Wolfgang. What if he had been born without musical talent? Would Leopold have bucked the system completely in order to promote his daughter? I tend to think that he would have. However, he did not and we are left with only one Mozart.