January 23, 2009
Motezuma finally free - Siebeke Lange Wilbert successful in landmark Vivaldi opera case

The landmark case about rights to the Vivaldi opera Motezuma has been decided: Germany’s Federal Supreme Court – the court of third and final instance – dismissed the action brought by Sing-Akademie against the Düsseldorf Altstadtherbst Kulturfestival in a judgment handed down on 22 January 2009.

The basic issue was whether the opera, which premiered in Venice in 1733 but the score to which was thought to have been lost until it was rediscovered in 2003, is an ‘unpublished work’. Only if this were so could the Berlin Sing-Akademie, in whose archives the manuscript was found, acquire rights to the music by its later publication of 50 facsimile copies.

The Altstadtherbst Festival had performed the opera in September 2005 as an in-house production after an initial performance ban obtained by Sing-Akademie in injunction proceedings was lifted by the Düsseldorf Provincial Court of Appeal.

In the main proceedings now decided, in which Siebeke Lange Wilbert successfully appeared for Altstadtherbst Festival, the claims in damages made by Sing-Akademie have now also been found unsubstantiated. It has therefore been finally established that Motezuma is a free work that can be performed by anybody.