Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Magic Flute

Last Saturday, we went to see a German-language opera in Prague. Die Zauberflöte, The Magic Flute, was composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It was the last of his operas ever staged during his lifetime.

This one is a long one. The opera is in two acts and with the intermission, it lasted almost three hours. It is in the form of a Singspiel - it includes both singing and spoken dialogue. It was performed in German but there were both Czech and English subtitles. The German singing was fine. However, the spoken diallogue sounded a bit funny.

The Magic Flute is a fairy-tale with serveral twists and turns. It takes you a while to figure out who's really good and who's really bad. Here's the basic plot summary...

The Queen of the Night has a daughter, Pamina, who is held by the high priest Sarastro. Prince Tamino falls in love with Pamina's portrait and is sent by the queen to rescue Pamina from Sarastro.
Papageno, the bird-catcher, is sent with Tamino. They both receive a magic flute and magic bells to guard them against danger. In Sarastro's temple Pamina resists the advances of the evil slave Monostatos, who is frightened off by Papageno's arrival. Papageno and Pamina flee. Meanwhile, Prince Tamino encounters Sarastro's followers and decides to join them. Tamino and Pamina finally meet.

Sarastro orders Tamino and Pamina to pass the tests that will prove them worthy. Despite temptations, the Prince remains faithful to Sarastro. The Queen of the Night, furious at the turn of events, tries to induce Pamina to stab Sarastro, but to no avail.

The Queen's last attempt at revenge is foiled by the coming of dawn, which dispels the forces of night. Pamina and Tamino are united within the Sacred Order. The bird-catcher Papageno finds his very own Papagena.

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