The Magic Flute
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)
Opera in two acts
Sung in German
Libretto: Emanuel Schikaneder
Premiere: 1791 in Vienna
The objective? To free mankind from the darkness of superstition and hate; to lead the way to a brighter world of reasoning, clarity of mind and brotherly love. The driving force? Power and love. The means? Wisdom, music and art. The time? From antique mysterious symbolism via Maria Theresa to the present. The cast? A prince, a queen, three ladies, child-spirits, a sage, a moor, mother and daughter, a buffoon, guards and informants – the whole spectrum of humanity, complete with individuals and their personal feelings, desires, intentions and ideological groupings. Add to this a couple who walk through fire and water and a magic spell which binds all the various elements together, and we are set for an exciting journey from darkness into the light.
“Something with this effect upon an entire nation must certainly be one of the most potent agents of fermentation...”, the “Journal des Luxus und der Moden” wrote of Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte” in 1794. The piece, which had its premiere in Emanuel Schikaneder’s humble fringe theatre in Vienna, has long since taken its rightful place as a type of operatic shrine, and remains one of the top five German Singspiele in the world repertoire. Its music remains ever-popular, and it is not only Classical music fans who know the Queen of the Night’s stunningly shrill coloratura aria, the tune of the jolly Bird Catcher, Tamino’s romantic “Bildnis” aria, or Sarastro’s great aria of forgiveness. “Zauberflöte” is a work which successfully preserves the allure and mystery of fairytale, symbolism, rites of passage, suburban Viennese shindig and human enigma.