Monday, May 15, 2017

Mozart's The Magic Flute

Moving along rather quickly through opera history, today let’s look at a famous late 18th-century composer whose operas are still widely performed and loved today: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The Cincinnati Opera will perform Mozart’s The Magic Flute this summer and I certainly hope you will have the opportunity to see it! Mozart wrote this opera during the last year of his life in collaboration with librettist, opera singer, and theater director Emanuel Schikaneder. Both men were personally affiliated with Freemasonry, resulting in certain masonic themes showing up throughout the work. Mozart wrote this opera as a German Singspiel – a light opera with spoken dialogue rather than recitative. He drew from multiple 18th-century styles including the splendor of the opera seria voice, the folk humor characteristic of German Singspiel, the use of choral sections, and fantastic solo arias as exhibited by the Queen of the Night here.

Mozart conducted the premiere of The Magic Flute in September 1791 and Schikaneder sang the role of Papageno. The opera was a huge success, but unfortunately Mozart did not live to see just how much of a hit it would become. He became ill that fall and died in December of the same year. 

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