The Magic Flute’s humble beginnings

It started as a request for a little ditty for a theatre company Mozart had become involved in . An entertaining piece was wanted that would drive audiences into the theatre and give members of the troupe an outlet for their talents. A singspiel was the ideal choice: some singing, some telling text, that would drive the story forward.

 Mozart was friends with one of the tenors, Benedikt Schack, who sang the first Tamino while Mozart conducted and Schikander performed Papageno. He collaborated increasingly with the “Theater an der Wien”   in co-writing the popular form of fairy tale operas of the time. His collaborator was Emanuel Schikaneder, who wrote the libretto, as he had done many times before. Because he and Mozart were both Freemasons the story can be seen to be about the recruitment of a new member to the secretive organization, but has been elsewhere disputed, and rather been used to reflect on other timely political situations. It cannot be a coincidence that Freemasonry was forbidden under Maria Theresa in Austria. Thus the “Queen of the Night” is to be a symbol of the Catholic Church. Curious is also that the printer of the Libretto  was also a Freemason. On the surface the story is simply about love and overcoming all sorts of obstacles. The otherworldly influences serve as examples of enlightenment. 

Thus, the two-act opera with 10 scenes, that is a singspiel, has taken on many different colors in many different places, simply due to the choice of the stage director, in this case Penelope Cookson. But before we get to the actual performances of Opera York’s Magic Flute March 3 and 5,  we will have the pleasure and opportunity to sample the companies talents  with music that makes the world go around, like love songs from the opera for Valentine’s Day, on the 9th of February at the Varley Gallery in Unionville, on the 10th of February at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinberg will host the concert, and the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto will host a dinner and concert on the 13th of February. How divine! We will see what this production comes up with in way of interpretation. I can hardly wait! Perhaps I can get a glimpse when I interview Penelope Cookson and Maestro Geoffrey Butler, who will conduct. Mozart only wrote one more piece of music after the opera, a requiem, before he passed away three months later. I know the maestro loves the Magic Flute and will conduct it probably many more times, after all the flute is so magic it is one of the most favorite operas of all times. It has been performed over 660 times! For Opera York it will be the 3rd time in 28 years.

 Not so humble anymore!  

Tickets for February 9 are just $30 and can be purchased through Eventbrite Opera Arias of Love for Valentines Tickets, Thu, Feb 9, 2023 at 6:00 PM | Eventbrite

Tickets for February 10 are $40 for Opera York supporters using promo code OYXTEN through the McMichael website Valentine’s Night at the Opera | McMichael