This weekend, the Washington-based Wolf Trap Opera Company will redefine the role of the audience in a rare performance of Mozart’s unfinished opera Zaide. Listeners will choose between three possible endings devised by the company, casting their votes in the interval.


Mozart began the opera at the age of 22, writing music for a love story between a man and woman held in captivity in a foreign land. But like Berg’s Lulu and Puccini’s Turandot, Zaide was never completed. Discovered among Mozart’s papers after his death, the opera has no final act.

While composer Luciano Berio has written a sequence of pieces to accompany the opera, Wolf Trap Opera is taking its own, novel approach.

‘We decided we didn’t want to add anything of that nature to it’, Kim Pensinger Witman, general director, explained in The Washington Post. ‘We decided the best way to honor this would be to leave it open-ended’. But will the audience opt for tragedy or benevolence? All will be revealed at The Barns at Wolf Trap, Virginia, where Zaide opens tonight.


Rebecca Thumpston