Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) The Magic Flute K. 620
German Opera in 2 acts Text: Emanuel Schikaneder
solos: 7S (2 child). A (child) 3T. Bar. 3B – 3Sp – choir: SATTBB – 2(picc)2.2.2bassethn.2. – 22.214.171.124. – timp.perc – str / stage music: fl
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Duration: full evening
Text by Emanuel Schikaneder
Characters: Sarastro (bass) - Tamino (tenor) - Speaker (bass) - 1st Priest (speaking part) - 2nd Priest (tenor) - 3rd Priest (speaking part) - Queen of the Night (soprano) - Pamina (soprano) - 1st Queens Lady (soprano) - 2nd Queens Lady (soprano) - 3rd Queens Lady (alto) - 1st Boy (soprano: boys voice) - 2nd Boy (soprano: boys voice) - 3rd Boy (alto: boys voice) - Papageno (baritone) - Papagena (soprano) - Monostatos (tenor) - 1st Man in Armour (tenor) - 2nd Man in Armour (bass) - 3 Slaves (speaking parts) - Dance of the Moors (ballet)
Since only the German original version of this work is available, we have supplied only a German-language commentary.
It is astonishing what the revue director Schikaneder was familiar with and what he melted together from all over: Punch and Judy theater and princely pageantry, spectacular productions which he wanted to surpass, more or less Egyptian-influenced versions not only of Plutarch, Herodotus, and Plato, but also of the legacy of the Renaissance and the Illumination; Wieland's tale 'Lulu und die Zauberflöte', including the water and fire ordeal from his 'Stein der Weisen'; folkloric farces and Freemasonry, which was then the biggest sensation, in short, a melange of high-brow and popular appeal with an occasional touch of tackiness. Egypt was particularly well suited to arouse this strangely popular fascination since its priests had long been held to be second to none in the magical arts, and were justly reputed to be very wise. This undoubtedly enhanced the spectacle with a Faust-like aura of legendary enchantment..."
Since its premiere in the "Theater an der Wieden" an 30 September 1791, Mozart's opera "Die Zauberflöte" has provoked innumerable interpretations and analyses, not only because of the variety of its motifs and thematic references, which Ernst Bloch so vividly recapitulated in his essay "Die Zauberflöte und Symbole von heute" of 1930, but also because of the unusually rich interpretative potential of its music which ranges from the opera seria to the popular Liederspiel, and includes everything in between. Whereas Emanuel Schikaneder's first "Zauberflöte" was a theatrical sensation, a spectacle which attracted crowds and stimulated imitations, sequels and parodies throughout the following years, the work underwent a thorough re-assessment during the ferst half of the 19th century. In the light of a national German operatic culture, the "Zauberflöte" - and not the "Entführung aus dem Serail" - now came to be considered as the starting point of a development which began slowly and led via Beethoven's "Fidelio" and Weber's "Freischütz" to Wagner's music dramas, which at that time represented the ultimate achievement of German opera. Wagner's plea for an all-encompassing conception of music theater ("Gesamtkunstwerk"), which continued to influence the aesthetic of operatic composition well into the 20th century, provoked renewed attempts to discern a unifying principle at the basis of the "Zauberflöte". It is perfectly feasible to draw consequences for the dramaturgical Interpretation from the striking motivic and thematic associations in the score and to transpose the polarizing elements of the action (sun/moon, man/woman, self-discipline/waywardness) into an all-embracing, hermetically sealed stage world whose allegorical representatives (ladies, children, animals) can wander amidst good and evil without seeming unbelievable. On the other hand, the work can be subjected to scenic interpretations which avoid combining the heterogeneous components into an Overall concept. This enigmatic character, the absence of a key for the Interpretation and representation of these various associations is undoubtedly one of the essential factors which explains why the "Zauberflöte" has remained so powerful and current up to this day.
This new edition resulted from a thorough revision of the piano/vocal score by C. F. Wettmann which was published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 1871. In particular, the dialogues were subjected to an exhaustive examination and now follow the original libretto by Schikaneder. The dialogue parts which are often omitted in performances are set between brackets. One problematic detail should be pointed out: Mozart's autographic score, the libretto of 1791 and the play-bills of the premiere provide conflicting indications about the vocal distribution of the "priest" parts in the first finale and in the duet (No. 11). Contemporary staging practice often assigns these parts to two solo Bingers. The priest in the first finale would then be sung by the speaker. The setting of No. 11 in this edition respects the stage practice.
The generally very succinct stage directions of the original were occasionally expanded or carefully modernized. These additions and modifications are printed in italics.