The critical reception was almost uniformly enthusiastic; the score was even compared to that of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, rare praise for the time. Indeed, in the musical high points Süßmayr appears to have benefited from his direct knowledge of Mozart’s technique, which is also apparent in Süßmayr’s completion of the master’s Requiem.
Premiering on 14 November 1794, Der Spiegel von Arkadien had over 65 performances in its first year alone. It was performed all over Europe, both in the original German and in several translations, and was revived regularly for over 30 years. The enduring performance history attests to some extraordinarily beautiful, inspired music in Süßmayr’s score, music that has been neglected far too long.
This according to a new two-volume critical edition of the work, edited with commentary by David J. Buch (Recent researches in music of the Classical era, 93–94; Middleton: A-R editions, 2014). Below, the opera’s overture.