On Monday, July 28, at 1:45 p.m., Opera@theLibrary will present Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's delightful opera The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflote) at the Cooper Memorial Library, in room 108 B. The Magic Flute was Mozart's last opera. It premiered 3 months before his death in late1791. This opera has been the source of countless studies which have dispelled many myths previously attributed to the plot and characters portrayed in the story. However, one thing has been established without doubt, and it is that Mozart wanted to divulge some of the mysterious elements linked to the Freemasons organization to which he was an active member.
Though not a very healthy person throughout his life, his untimely death has inspired innumerable theories linked to his association with the Masons. This supposedly beneficent organization which claims to better the world by "enlightening" the populace, was a threat to the then-powerful Catholic Church. The Church felt threatened by the rationalistic approach to life based on reason and wisdom rather than the strict rules and discipline which it demanded from its members. In many cases the Freemasons were condemned and forbidden to form a lodge, so secrecy became of the utmost importance. Specific codes and symbols were adopted, certain signals and words would determine who was a legitimate member of the society, rituals based on Egyptian practices were adopted, and even a specific musical instrument, a basset horn, was used at their meetings. All these adopted practices further alienated the Freemasons from the general "unenlightened" populace, who went on to invent stories that would make the Freemasons seemingly more mysterious. Mozart met the librettist of
The Magic Flute, Emanuel Schikaneder, at one of the lodge's meetings and they became close friends. They wanted to impart the ideas, practices, and beliefs of the Freemasons to the general public, for whom this opera was written. They wanted to vindicate the Masons' existence and let it be known that evil and superstition can be overcome by goodness and justice, that men and women are equal, and that men should be able to think for their own and determine their own futures. Historians point to the many instances in the opera where Masonic ideas and rituals are revealed.
Putting aside the basis for the plot, it is the music that binds all the elements making the opera successful. It was a huge success at its premiere, and today it is the fourth most frequently produced opera in the world. Musically, it engages the speaking voice with the trained, enormously difficult vocal parts of the principals. This is a feat which Mozart accomplishes seamlessly. The premiere did not have the large orchestras that are used today when this opera is performed, and during the initial productions Mozart conducted his composition, and at times intentionally tried to confuse Schikaneder (the original Papageno) and cause him to make mistakes, all in the spirit of fun to make the audience laugh.
The operas are introduced by Lake-Sumter State College adjunct professor Norma Trivelli, who will offer a background into the author’s motivation for composing this opus. All operas have English translations for your understanding and they are free to the public. We hope to enhance your knowledge and appreciation of this beautiful art form. Light refreshments will be provided at intermission for our guests by our Friends of the Opera.
For more information about Opera@theLibrary programs, please visit our web presence at https://sites.google.com/site/operaatthelibrary/or contact Dennis Smolarek at (352) 536-2275 and email at firstname.lastname@example.org.