180 Days With Mozart And Me

A Survey Of The Philips Complete Mozart Edition…From Symphonies Through Theatre And Ballet Music

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Of Night Queens and Magic Flutes (German Operas, Box 16)

June 1st, 2010 · No Comments · Ann Murray, Armin Ude, Box 16: German Operas, Die Zauberflote, Dritte Dame, Dritter Knabe, Ein altes Weit, Erste Dame, Erster geharnischter Mann, Erster Knabe, Frank Hoher, Friedemann Klos, Hanna Schwarz, Heinz Reeh, K620, K620 (Part I), Konigin der Nacht, Kurt Moll, Luciana Serra, Magic Flute, Magic Flute (Part I), Margaret Price, Maria Venuti, Marie McLaughlin, Maynard Solomon, Michael Diedrich, Mikael Melbye, Monostatos, Mozart at 35, Mozart: A Life, Pamina, Papageno, Peter Schreier, Queen of the Night, Reiner Goldberg, Robert Tear, Rundfunkchor Leipzig, Sarastro, Singspiel, Sir Colin Davis, Sprecher, Staatskapelle Dresden, Tamino, Theo Adam, Vienna (September 29 1791), Zweite Dame, Zweiter geharnischter Mann, Zweiter Knabe, Zweiter Sprecher

German OperasThis is one of Mozart’s biggies, one of the operas I’ve been waiting to hear.

It’s called Die Zauberflote, K620, also known (especially to those who don’t speak German) as The Magic Flute.

This flute definitely is magical. I like it a lot. Even the Overture is memorable.

I know enough about operas now to know this is a Singspiel, an opera that contains both sung and spoken parts.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about one of Mozart’s best-loved operas:

The Magic Flute (German: Die Zauberflöte, K. 620) is an opera in two acts composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, [See? what did I tell you?] a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue.

Premiere and reception
The opera was premiered in Vienna on 30 September 1791, at the suburban Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden. Mozart conducted the orchestra, Schikaneder himself played Papageno, while the role of the Queen of the Night was sung by Mozart’s sister-in-law Josepha Hofer.

On the reception of the opera, Mozart scholar Maynard Solomon writes [on page 487]:

Although there were no reviews of the first performances, it was immediately evident that Mozart and Schikaneder had achieved a great success, the opera drawing immense crowds and reaching hundreds of performances during the 1790s.

Mozart: A LifeThe success of The Magic Flute lifted the spirits of its composer, who had fallen ill while in Prague a few weeks before. Solomon continues:

Mozart’s delight is reflected in his last three letters, written to Constanze, who with her sister Sophie was spending the second week of October in Baden. “I have this moment returned from the opera, which was as full as ever,” he wrote on 7 October, listing the numbers that had to be encored. “But what always gives me the most pleasure is the silent approval! You can see how this opera is becoming more and more esteemed.” … He went to hear his opera almost every night, taking along [friends and] relatives.

The opera celebrated its 100th performance in November 1792. Mozart did not have the pleasure of witnessing this milestone, having died of his illness on 5 December 1791.

Since its premiere, The Magic Flute has always been one of the most beloved works in the operatic repertoire, and is presently the eighth most frequently performed opera in North America.

Background
Mozart evidently wrote keeping in mind the skills of the singers intended for the premiere, which included both virtuosi and ordinary comic actors, asked to sing for the occasion. Thus, the vocal lines for Papageno and Monostatos are often stated first in the strings so the singer can find his pitch, and are frequently doubled by instruments. In contrast, Mozart’s sister-in-law Josepha Hofer, who premiered the role of the Queen of the Night, evidently needed little such help: this role is famous for its difficulty. In ensembles, Mozart skillfully combined voices of different ability levels.

A particularly demanding aria is the Queen of the Night’s “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” (“The vengeance of Hell boils in my heart”), which reaches a high F6, rare in opera. At the low end, the part of Sarastro includes a conspicuous F in a few locations.

I can vouch for that. One of my all-time favorite songs from an opera is that one, which is performed by Luciana Serra on the Philips Compact Edition of the Complete Mozart collection. Her performance is nothing short of jaw-dropping. I had no idea the human voice could reach such notes.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. That particular song appears on tomorrow’s CD.

The Original Cast:

The Magic Flute Original cast

The Cast Today:

Sarastro……………………………..Kurt Moll
Tamino………………………………Peter Schreier
Sprecher…………………………….Theo Adam
Speaker
Zweiter Sprecher………………….Armin Ude
Second Speaker
Konigin der Nacht………………..Luciana Serra
Queen of the Night
Pamina……………………………….Margaret Price
Her daughter
Erste Dame………………………….Marie McLaughlin
First Lady
Zweite Dame………………………..Ann Murray
Second Lady
Dritte Dame………………………….Hanna Schwarz
Third Lady
Erster Knabe…………………………Frank Hoher
First Boy
Zweiter Knabe……………………….Michael Diedrich
Second Boy
Dritter Knabe…………………………Friedemann Klos
Third Boy
Ein altes Weit (Papagena)………….Maria Venuti
The old woman
Papageno……………………………….Mikael Melbye
Monostatos……………………………Robert Tear
a Moor
Erster geharnischter Mann…………Reiner Goldberg
First Armored Man
Zweiter geharnischter Mann……….Heinz Reeh
Second Armored Man

Rundfunkchor Leipzig
Staatskapelle Dresden
Sir Colin Davis

Here is what I listened to today, complete with the best guesses of scholars regarding where and when each composition was penned. This information was pieced together from The Compactothèque book + CD, which is an essential purchase if you want the fullest enjoyment from the Philips Complete Mozart Edition. It’s only about $8 and the sampler CD, alone, is remarkably enjoyable. But the booklet is gold, Jerry! Gold! Keep in mind, some of these places and dates are merely guesses. But I find it fascinating to see even guesses for some of these compositions. They help me put Mozart’s life and creative output in perspective.

For example, Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart was born on 27 January 1756. With that in mind, take a look at where and when these pieces were composed. I’ll add Mozart’s approximate age in the parenthetical data below each composition:

1. Die Zauberflöte, K.620 – Overture Staatskapelle Dresden 7:09 Album Only
Play 2. Die Zauberflöte, K.620 / Act 1 – “Zu Hilfe! Zu Hilfe!” – Dialog “Wo bin ich?” Hans Jörn Weber 6:58 $0.99 Buy Track
Play 3. Die Zauberflöte, K.620 / Act 1 – “Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja” Mikael Melbye 2:58 $0.99 Buy Track
Play 4. Die Zauberflöte, K.620 / Act 1 – Dialog “He da!” Hans Jörn Weber 4:11 $0.99 Buy Track
Play 5. Die Zauberflöte, K.620 / Act 1 – “Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön” Peter Schreier 3:54 $0.99 Buy Track
Play 6. Die Zauberflöte, K.620 / Act 1 – Dialog “Rüste dich mit Mut und Standhaftigkeit” Hans Jörn Weber 1:28 $0.99 Buy Track
Play 7. Die Zauberflöte, K.620 / Act 1 – “O zittre nicht” – Dialog “Betäuben mich meine Sinne?” Luciana Serra 5:26 $0.99 Buy Track
Play 8. Die Zauberflöte, K.620 / Act 1 – “Hm! hm! hm! hm!” Peter Schreier 6:37 $0.99 Buy Track
Play 9. Die Zauberflöte, K.620 / Act 1 – Dialog “Haha… Pst… Was soll denn das Lachen?” Michael Tellcke 1:23 $0.99 Buy Track
Play 10. Die Zauberflöte, K.620 / Act 1 – “Du feines Täubchen, nur herein” Margaret Price 1:57 $0.99 Buy Track
Play 11. Die Zauberflöte, K.620 / Act 1 – Dialog “Mutter! Mutter!… Bin ich nicht ein Narr” Elke Wieditz 3:34 $0.99 Buy Track
Play 12. Die Zauberflöte, K.620 / Act 1 – “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” Margaret Price
- Vienna, September 29, 1791 (Mozart was 35)

This is a terrific opera. I enjoyed it, even though it’s sung in German and I didn’t understand a word of it. I liked its feel and flow.

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