For the time being the plan held. In August 1783 the Mozarts visited Salzburg and Wolfgang took away with him a portion of Varesco’s libretto for the first act. By the end of the year he was writing the music. Alas, as often happens with inexperienced dramatists, Varesco could not really control the plot. Mozart was soon finding problems, and perhaps remembering just what trouble he had had with Varesco in the past:
‘Neither you nor Abbate Varesco nor I have noticed that it will have a very bad effect and even cause the entire failure of the opera if neither of the two principal female singers appears on the stage till the very last moment… The patience of the audience might hold out for one act, but certainly not for a second one.’ (Letter to Leopold, 06/12/1783)*
Varesco’s theatrical naivety perhaps showed itself in his suggestion that two cavatinas for the two principal female characters could both be sung to the same music:
‘That is out of the question, for in Celidora’s cavatina the words are very disconsolate and despairing, whereas in Lavina’s they are most comforting and hopeful. Besides, for one singer to echo the song of another is a practice which is quite out of date and is hardly ever made use of… the audience would hardly be able to tolerate the same aria from the second singer, after having heard it sung by the first.’ (Letter to Leopold, 24/12/1783)*
Eventually Mozart ran out of patience with Varesco. During early 1784 he had 17 subscription concerts to give; other projects had to go on the back burner:
‘In my last letter I wrote to you about Varesco and my opera. At present I haven’t the slightest intention of producing it. I have works to compose which at the moment are bringing in money, but will not do so later. The opera will always bring in some; and besides, the more time I take, the better it will be. As it is, the impression I have gained from Varesco’s text is that he has hurried too much, [and I hope that in time he will realise this]. That is why I should like to see the opera as a whole (he need only jot it down in rough and ready fashion). Then we can make drastic alterations. For by heaven there is no need to hurry. If you were to hear what I have composed, then you would wish, as I do, that my work should not be spoilt! And that is so easily done – and so often. What I wrote has been put away safely…’*
And put away was how it remained, for the rest of Mozart’s life.