The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte) is an opera in two acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue. The work premiered in 1791 at Schikaneder's theatre, the Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna. The Magic Flute is noted for its prominent Masonic elements; Schikaneder and Mozart were Masons and lodge brothers. The opera is also influenced by Enlightenment philosophy, and can be regarded as an allegory advocating enlightened absolutism. The Queen of the Night represents a dangerous form of obscurantism or, according to some, the anti-Masonic Roman Catholic Empress Maria Theresa. Her antagonist Sarastro symbolises the enlightened sovereign who rules according to principles based on reason, wisdom, and nature. The story itself portrays the education of mankind, progressing from chaos through religious superstition to rationalistic enlightenment, by means of trial (Tamino) and error (Papageno), ultimately to make "the Earth a heavenly kingdom, and mortals like the gods". This 1981 recording stars Lucia Popp, Edita Gruberova and Siegfried Jerusalem. Bernard Haitink conducts.
December 8, 2018