Speculation of an affair with the English soprano Nancy Storace, for whom he wrote the role of Susanna in Marriage of Figaro, was sparked in 1945 in a book by the musicologist Alfred Einstein and gets revived every time someone does a radio or television feature about her. As someone in Munich did this week.
Clearly there was something going on between them. Mozart wrote a Scena con Rondo for them to perform together and co-wrote an opera for her with Salieri. He was solicitous when Nancy experienced vocal troubles and adjusted Susanna’s part to make it easier for her.
They are said to have exchanged a lot of letters, which is only to be expected of a composer and singer working on a new opera. Nancy was trapped in an abusive marriage. Mozart may have aroused her interest.
But none of the letters survived. There is not a shred of evidence – not one scrap of paper – to validate rumours of an affair. Like Beethoven’s landlady knocking at the door, it’s one of those fables that cannot be disproven.