Mozart's Sister Finally Gets Her Due

The Other Mozart shines a stage light on the famous composer and his lesser-known sister, Nannerl.

By Katricia Lang January 4, 2016

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Sylvia Milo stars in The Other Mozart

Siblings of celebrities are often overlooked. If you’re Casey Affleck or Dave Franco, you’ve done well by yourself, carving out your own spot in celeb life. If you’re Doug Pitt or Joey Travolta, then, well, eesh. Lott Entertainment’s year-opener, The Other Mozart, playing Jan. 7–9 at MATCH, tackles the latter with a story about overshadowing popularity among talented siblings.

The one-woman show follows Maria Anna “Nannerl” Mozart as she plays second fiddle to her younger brother Wolfgang Amadeus. “[Nannerl] was also extremely talented and had accolades of her own, but because of her womanhood, because she was female, and [because of] the strict mores of the era, was not afforded most, if any, of the opportunities Wolfgang was,” says The Other Mozart lighting designer Joshua Rose.

When Nannerl’s was eight, her father, Leopold Mozart, began teaching her to play harpsichord. And for many years, Nannerl performed throughout Europe along with her brother, Wolfgang, who was already cutting a swath through the popular music scene throughout the continent. The siblings were dubbed “the wunderkinder,” with Nannerl receiving equal, and at times, greater acclaim.

Yet Nannerl—played by Sylvia Milo, who also produced and wrote the monodrama—was allowed to learn only the harpsichord because other instruments, like the violin, were male-dominated. And when she turned 18, the prodigy stopped touring. To secure her financial situation, Nannerl needed a husband, and continuing to perform publicly would injure her chances in finding one. She would eventually marry a baron, have several children and fade into classical music history.

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The Other Mozart is a cradle-to-the-grave depiction, touching on pivotal moments in the musician’s life. Impactful moments in Nannerl’s life are highlighted by the use of the rather literal set dressing. “We are presenting an entire life—78 years in 75 minutes on an 18 foot white dress in a black space with one actress,” she says noting the opulent and illuminated dress Nannerl’s dons in the play, elevating her above the stage.

The 18th century-style dress is outfitted with a skirt with trails of folds upon which Rose pours colored light to amplify crucial moments in the story. On several occasions, a pannier cage—which symbolizes the presence or absence of Nannerl’s freedom in any particular moment—accompanies the dress. “When she gets married, she fastens herself inside the cage,” says Rose.

“You can feel from her the love of these characters, of the story, how important she thinks it is that people get a chance to discover what she discovered,” says Rose. “[The Other Mozart] is written and performed with love for all of the characters and a deep appreciation and understanding of their connection to one another.”

January 7–9. 8. $45. MATCH, 3400 Main St. 713-521-4533.

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