March is Women’s History month, making the timing of the upcoming one-woman play about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s older sister apt and timely. ‘The Other Mozart’ chronicles the life of Nannerl Mozart, a virtuoso keyboard player who never got the opportunity to leave her mark on music history.
The 7 p.m. March 23 production is part of Texas Tech’s Presidential Lecture and Performance Series.
“She has a beautiful voice, she has beautiful manner. It’s just mesmerizing,” Jo Moore, director of the series, says.
She’s seen the play and has high regard for Sylvia Milo. The native of Poland studied the violin growing up and is the play’s author and its lone actor. The play brings to life the true and untold story of Anna Marie Mozart, who was Wolfgang’s senior by about 4 and a half years. Her nickname was Nannerl.
Leopold, Nannerl and Wolfgang’s father, toured the two children around Europe like circus performers, often with Nannerl as the top-billed act. She was got rave reviews as an 11-year-old. But once she turned 18, the keyboard virtuoso and composer was left at home in Salzburg, Austria. Her brother, meanwhile, continued to travel and perform.
“History is such that—particularly in the 18th century—women past a certain age were supposed to get married,” Moore explains. “And so one of the things that her mother told her was that music was an ornament, it was not going to be her profession because she had to save herself in terms of reputation to be marriageable.”
In the show, Milo’s Nannerl sits on stage, a large hairdo atop her head and surrounded by an exceptionally large ivory skirt that fans out in a wide circle against a black stage. Atop the dress are a corset and panniers, the side hoops that women wore as undergarments in the 17th and 18th centuries.
“What’s beautiful about it is that you are in a dark theater, there’s this beautiful white dress that’s 18 feet long and around. And with this singular figure. The sound design is breath-taking. They actually have recorded instruments—things that she would have played with and used as a child, and of course as a grown-up,” Moore says.
During the 75-minute show, some of the actress’ lines are pulled from family letters – some humorous, others heartbreaking – that lay among the many folds of the dress. Moore says at times audience members may feel Nannerl’s depression and sadness. But they’ll also hear her joy as Milo’s character speaks about her music.
“I think what you feel is a real sense of poignancy and a real sense that her life is unfulfilled and that there’s a waste of her talent.” Moore says she felt the play was a good fit for the lecture and performance series.
“We typically don’t present plays. I had seen this play a couple of years ago in Soho and I was just mesmerized by it. Because of course, with NPR and classical music and our school of music, just this whole idea that there was another Mozart just intrigued me,” Moore says.
General admission tickets are $18 and available through Select-A-Seat at 806-770-2000. Tech students can get a free ticket at the Student Union Building’s ticket booth. They must show a valid university ID.
Moore said the monodrama will be enjoyable to aficionados of history, music and theater. “Long-term patrons who have been following the series for years will be intrigued by what we have coming, but I anticipate people will jump on board as we get closer.”