The most celebrated of Mozart's Italian operas is
Don Juan, which has recently been performed with so
much applause in London. The overture was composed
under very remarkable circumstances. Mozart was much
addicted to trifling amusement, and was accustomed to
indulge himself in that too common attendant upon
superior talent, procrastination. The general rehearsal
of this opera had taken place, and the evening before
the first performance had arrived, but not a note of
the overture was written. At about eleven at night,
Mozart came home, and desired his wife to make him
some punch, and to stay with him to keep him awake.
Accordingly, when he began to write, she began to tell
him fairy tales and odd stories, which made him laugh,
and "by the very exertion preserved him from sleep. The
punch, however, made him so drowsy, that he could only
write while his wife was talking, and dropped asleep as
soon as she ceased. He was at last so fatigued by these
unnatural efforts, that he persuaded his wife to suffer
him to sleep for an hour. He slept, however, for two
hours, and at five o'clock in the morning she awakened
him. He had appointed his music-copiers to come at
seven, and when they arrived, the overture was finished.
It was played without a rehearsal, and was justly applauded
as a brilliant and grand composition. We ought
at the same time to say, that some very sagacious critics
have discovered the passages in the composition where
Mozart dropt asleep, and those where he was suddenly