Thursday, September 28, 2006

Magic flute notes

Here is program notes by Chamber Orchestra violist Dorian Bandy and a great picture of the set for Magic Flute by Karl Friedrich Schinkle which is in the Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Despite his poverty and diminishing health, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) remained prolific even during the last year of his life. Indeed, in the months immediately preceding his death he composed a piano concerto, a clarinet concerto, thirty-nine orchestral and chamber works, a Requiem mass, three cantatas and motets, and two operas. One of these, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), was completed on September 28 and premiered on September 30, 1791. Although the opera was a hit success, and played in Vienna for the next few years, its warm reception mattered little to Mozart, who died ten weeks after the initial performance.
Mozart’s long-time colleague, Emanuel Schikaneder (1741-1812), famed actor, poet, and singer, provided the story and text for Die Zauberflöte: The evil and tyrannical Queen of the Night employs Tamino, a prince, and Papageno, a bird catcher, to rescue her daughter Pamina from the evil sorcerer Sarastro. Upon entering Sarastro’s “Temple of Wisdom,” they discover the sorcerer’s benevolence, and agree to undergo extensive initiation rites (based on real Masonic rituals) so that they may join the Temple. Tamino succeeds and weds Pamina (much to the Queen’s chagrin); Papageno fails the initiation but still finds happiness with Papagena, his female counterpart. Annoyed at this collective rapture, the Queen tries to destroy Sarastro’s Temple, but to no avail: Sarastro vanquishes the Queen’s forces, and the four lovers continue to lead long and happy lives. (The magic flute itself plays an ironically small part in the opera—it appears in only two scenes and has little or no effect on the plot.)
The overture to Die Zauberflöte reflects many of the themes that Mozart and Schikaneder explore during the opera itself. The music begins slowly, with three majestic chords, reminiscent of those which herald Tamino’s entry into Sarastro’s Temple. The next section, a jovial fugato Allegro, introduces a melody in the second violins, which all of the strings successively imitate. (Here, the presence of a fugue, one of the most complex forms of composition, represents the wisdom Tamino hopes to attain in Sarastro’s Temple; the playful character of this fugue in particular resembles the lighthearted irreverence with which Papageno ignores the Temple’s initiation rites.) The strings continue to play fragments of the original melody while the winds carry a slightly more lyrical theme, possibly indicative of Papageno and Papagena’s innocent love affair. The music builds to a faux-finale, which is interrupted by a restatement of the same three chords that opened the overture. The Allegro theme then resumes, though this time with a much darker mood, a reminder of the Queen of the Night’s many attempts to prevent her daughter’s and Tamino’s happiness. As in the opera, however, the clouds soon lift, and give way to a triumphant and joyous climax. – Notes by Dorian Bandy

1 comment:

javieth said...

This blog is absolutely outstanding. I Think the sound of the flute is so relaxing that I prefer to listen with growing frequency. Becouse I heard that this sound has a restorate power. Actually when by boyfriend had problem in his sexual performance he decided to buy viagra, i remerber that he listened flute music all the night to stay relaxed and from there everything changed.