audience

THE MAGIC FLUTE

2000 – Vienna, Austria
New York City, USA,

Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

detail

Directed by: Tilmann Schillinger
Conductor: Emanuel Schulz
Choir Leader: Gerald Wirth

Choreography: Monia Giovannangeli
Stage Design: Gunther Thurner, Mason Doran

Cast: Dorthe Holst, Darinka Glatzova, Wolfgang Hackl, Robert Szuecs, Tatiana Samoylova, Thomas Scott, Karen Frolen, Stella Scott, Goran Frolen, Inge Schulz, Margareta Hillerud, Ursula Weber-Capitain, Vanessa Payer, Gita Pattison, Vasilj Bellan, Monia Giovannangli, Alexandra Maitland-Hume, Irina Harangozó, Engelbert Omar, Walter Schulz, Elisabeth Schulz, Kristine Kirby, Bruno Descaves, Vicky Mohr, Vera Morgenbesser, Oliver Reichenbach, Antonia Ronniger, Brigitte Saugstad, Edward Saugstad, Roswita Schmid, Lilo Schmoigl, Anna Schmoigl, Inge Stambach, Angelika Tritsch, Leo Zeilinger, Yana Dablosora, Claudia Garscha, Mimi Garscha, Christine Haage, Hermann Haage, Johannes Hany, Reinhold Hörschläger, Alimonshu Ina, Wolfgang Jäger, Sita Kirchbaumer, Norbert Klimt, Renate Hojesky, Axel Krystufek, Brigitte Menschhorn.
"Die Zauberflote“ was the last opera - technically not an opera but a singspiel or song play - completed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and had its premiere at the Theater auf der Wieden, on September 30, 1791. The librettist, Schikaneder, took its plot from a collection of fairy tales by Christoph Martin Wieland but drew also on other literary sources and on current thinking about the benign and enlightened social work of Freemasonry in Vienna at that time. Coupled with this is some of the most radiantly beautiful music ever composed, offering contrasts between both the tragic and the comic, as well as admirable and unsavoury human characteristics.

George Bernard Shaw once famously declared that the two arias sung by the benevolent character Sarastro were the only music he knew that would not sound out of place in the mouth of God. The work describes the search for humanity on many different levels, from the negative aspect which obscures the nature of Divinity to the power of faith and single minded devotion of a genuine seeker of truth. The core of the piece rests on the contrasts between two couples - Tamino and the Princess Tamina on the one hand and the birdcatcher Papageno and his love Papagena on the other. Where Papagena seeks only physical pleasure and comfort - good wine, a wife and family life - Tamino is determined to search for higher ideals in his quest for the Princess and the truth.

In the opera's opening scene prince Tamino is saved from a monster by 'three ladies', who are servants of the 'Queen of the Night', representing the sinister and dark power. Tamino is told that Pamina, the Queen's daughter, has been captured by an evil character named Sarastro, a priest in the temple of the goddess Isis. [Interestingly enough, Mozart took the name Sarastro from the Greek name Zoroaster- which in turn derived from Zarathustra, considered in Persian mythology to be a great prophet of God.] Tamino and Papageno leave the Queen, having been given a magic flute and bells which symbolise the protective power of purity - the air flowing through these simple instruments being pure vibration without colour or distortion - and after many diversions and detours end up at the temple of Isis and Osiris, where they encounter the power of the Divine expressed through the Goddess (shown in the chorus: 'Oh Isis und Osiris, welche Wonne...') Tamino then attempts to force an entry through the doors, but at each attempt is forced back by an unseen power symbolising the forces of action (a D-major chord) and emotion (a G-minor). Finally the central door opens automatically to the sounds of A-flat Major which corresponds in Sanskrit musicology to the note DHA (the sound associated with the Agnya Chakra which is considered to be the gateway to paradise in the human spiritual system). At this point a priest emerges from the temple and informs Tamino that he will not be able to enter the temple of the Goddess with revenge in his heart (the aria 'In this holy place revenge does not exist'), indicating that a lack of forgiveness represents a block against any union with God. He then explains the true nature of the Queen of the Night (the Queen of the Night's aria 'Hell rages in my Heart') and explains that Sarastro is not evil as claimed. Tamino and Pamina then embark on a series of initiation rites in the temple. Papageno also faces the same tests, but is easily diverted from the quest by his frivolous nature and lack of steadfast endeavour; his truth is immediate gratification through wine and the love of a suitable woman. Meanwhile Tamino remains true to the journey and has to face and overcome various hardships. His only protection is the 'Magic Flute', which overcomes the evil powers ranged against him by emitting simple pure vibrations of love when he plays. The primordial elements of life - fire, water, air and earth - also help to protect and cleanse the Prince. The last test symbolises Tamino and Pamina obtaining their self-realisation through ordeal by fire, a moving and powerful scene representing the pinnacle of human evolution. In the final scenes of the opera the temple is attacked by the unmasked Queen and her negative forces. The attack is easily repulsed through the use of Divine love and the opera ends with a praise to God, through the words 'divine power was victorious and beauty and wisdom are crowned forever.'