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A two-act opera, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), is the work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Emanuel Schikaneder wrote the German libretto. The piece is written in the popular Singspiel style of the period, which combines singing with spoken conversation.
The premiere took place on September 30, 1791, just two months before the composer's untimely death, at Schikaneder's theater in Vienna, the Freihaus-Theater Auf der Wieden. It is still a popular opera. The Magic Flute Part Two was written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1798. It was called Der Zauberflöte Zweiter Teil.
The story's central theme of "The Magic Flute" is that reason and goodness win over irrationality and evil. This idea was influential in the fraternal order of Freemasonry, which was popular during the Enlightenment and which Mozart joined. The opera story is based on symbols from Masonic rituals, in which people go through different levels of self-understanding in their quest for knowledge.
The Magic Flute takes place in Egypt in the past. The story is about a young prince named Tamino who quests to win the hand of a princess named Pamina. Tamino has to go through a series of initiation rites that test his commitment before he can marry Pamina.
For most of the story, Tamino is stuck between two solid and symbolic figures. The high priest of Isis and Osiris, Sarastro, guides Tamino on his journey to find wisdom. He is a symbol of the power of reason. The Queen of the Night tries to kill Sarastro and bring Tamino and Pamina under her control. She is a symbol of madness.
Mozart was a great dramatist, but The Magic Flute is often sad. He knew that his story would be better with a funny part. The opera's funniest parts come from Tamino's crazy sidekick, Papageno, the bird catcher.
History of Performance
In September 1792, "The Magic Flute" was performed for the first time outside Vienna in Lemberg. It was then performed in Prague. In November 1792, almost a year after the composer had died, the 100th performance took place. It had a successful run in all of Germany's major opera houses, then all over Europe and the rest of the world. But the earlier productions were often changed a lot or even taken apart. Over the past century, people have been more true to Mozart's music, but it's still rare to hear an exact copy of the original work.