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The Magic Flute
Mozart's The Magic Flute opera has two acts, with lyrics by Emanuel Schikaneder. Singspiels, works that mix singing with spoken dialogue, was popular when this piece was produced.
On September 30, 1791, barely two months before the composer's untimely death, the piece had its premiere performance at Schikaneder's theater in Vienna; the Freihaus-Theater Auf der Wieden 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 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 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 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 (like those in Freemasonry) that test his commitment to reason before he can marry Pamina.
Tamino is stuck between two strong, symbolic figures for most of the story. 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.
History and Past Shows
Scholars say that the opera is based on many different things. The libretto has been praised because many see it as a logical progression from the "fairy tale" operas his company had previously produced. Opera fans also try to gain the influence of Freemasonry in a very public way.
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. After a successful run in Germany's major opera houses, the opera was taken on tour throughout 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 faithful to Mozart's music, but it's still rare to hear an exact copy of the original work.