German court rules that the discoverer of a long lost Vivaldi opera may forbid unauthorized performances

August 2005

Music Publishers

In a case reminiscent of Hawkins v Hyperion, the right of two music festivals to perform Vivaldi’s long-lost operaMotezuma is being contested in Germany. A German court has ruled that the Berlin Sing-Akademie, in whose archives the incomplete 18th-century manuscript was found, has the right to authorize and forbid performances of the work. A concert performance of Motezuma took place in June in Rotterdam using an edition prepared by German musicologist Steffen Voss, who discovered the manuscript in 2002, and Italian musicologist and conductor Federico Maria Sardelli, who conducted the world premiere with his Baroque ensemble Modo Antiquo. The Sing-Akademie filed civil lawsuits against Italy’s Opera Barga and Düsseldorf’s Altstadtherbst Kulturfestival, both of which have planned staged versions of the work. The Akademie claims to have published the manuscript on its web site, and says that it is protected by German copyright law, which holds that the finder of a work can own the rights to its performance for 25 years – effectively a form of restricted act in copyright owned by the finder.


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