Emanuel Schikaneder is best known as the librettist of Mozart’s Die Zauberflote and its first Papageno. He was also an actor, impresario and composer, although his surviving compositions are few and confined to German light operas and incidental music to plays. Born near Regensburg in 1751, he travelled during much of his life with theatre troupes but spent periods in Vienna: 1784-6,


1789-1806 and from 1809 to his death there in 1812. In 1802 he bought a house in the NuSdorf area on the northern side of the city. It is thought to have been pillaged by Napoleon’s troops in 1809 and visited by Napoleon himself. From 1931 it was the property of Franz Lehar; since 1950 it has been a museum dedicated primarily to his memory (see LehAr), and it is sometimes known as the Schikaneder-Lehar SchloSl (‘little castle’). Schikaneder’s own music is not featured in the museum, but he is not forgotten there. Both he and Lehar are represented in the relief plaques by the entrance. Inside the single large room that constitutes the museum, there is a ceiling fresco of the Queen of Night, the Three Boys, the Three Ladies and Monostatos, the work of Vincenzo Sachetti and thought to date back to 1802. There is a sedan chair claimed as Schikaneder’s own, with giltwork inside and bevelled glazing. The exhibits include playbills, engravings and other materials relevant to Die Zauberflote. There is a pair of large wooden chairs with arm supports in the form of water serpents, which, it is claimed, were designed for and used in the original staging of the opera: credulity is somewhat stretched, but who knows?

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