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02 February 2006

Beauty, Dignity, Mystery, Love, Courage -- these can all be yours in 2006

The Queen of the Night /
Die Königin der Nacht appears
with the Stars, Moon and Heaven
as her Retinue, in Mozart's
"The Magic Flute / die Zauberflöte,"
a touring production by
the State Opera of
(where the Volga and Kama Rivers meet).
My Dutch ain't so hot, but I sincerely
think you can see this production
in Rotterdam on 7 and 26 March 2006.
(Click for larger.)

In the West, no other literary work so seduces and panders to the unfettered imagination decade after decade than The Magic Flute. It is about Magic, and Adventure, and Courage and Sacrifice, and Love and Desire, it about the Struggle between Good and Evil -- it is shamelessly and passionately about The Most Beautiful and Mysterious Things in all human experience.

Very few, if any, theater or opera directors can resist the chance to stage his or her own new Zauberflöte for modern times. There is something wrong with an opera conductor who doesn't want to create a Zauberflöte.

You can rent the DVD. To the shock of the cinema world, the Swedish depressive, Ingmar Bergman, directed a lovely film of The Magic Flute -- in Svensk, what the heck, it's just gorgeous and so much fun.

If, at the end, you wonder: "What the heck is this crazy, wild, lurid, frightening, funny thing about?" -- because you've never seen anything even remotely like it ...

There's actually an answer. It's about Freemasonry. Mozart and the theater owner/librettist Emmanuel Schikaneder
were Masons and decided to introduce the humanitarian and egalitarian ideals of Freemasonry to big-city European audiences -- but in code, because Freemasonry was at the time usually a banned and forbidden secret society, and the subject of a constant stream of official villification, hate propaganda and conspiracy theories.

It is very possible -- in fact it's almost certain -- that during the next year, there will be a live production of The Magic Flute within an easy day trip of wherever you are on the surface of the Earth. (Six separate productions are planned on Hoon, Vleeptron and Yobbo, one featuring Teresa Stratas as The Queen of the Night.)

I don't know if it's possible to do a bad Magic Flute, even with an all-amateur cast and orchestra, but this special year, most of the greatest opera companies on Earth will be taking their audiences into this strange, magic world, deep into dark forest, far into the broiling desert, of Love, Fear, Courage, Mystic Ritual.

Buy a ticket. Buy two tickets. Buy three or four, take some kids to see it, make them opera junkies for the rest of their startled, stirred lives.

Because opera is just Your Life -- but with Beauty and Dignity, beautiful songs to sing, beautiful clothes to wear, beautiful sword fights, beautiful tuberculosis -- and once in a while, they throw in some live elephants, lions, zebras and maybe even a giraffe. Opera is a glimpse of the Utopia of Everyday Life, a land where nobody ever slips on the ice and lands on his keister while passersby giggle.

Even violent, murderous jealousy is beautiful in Opera. Any woman can be a worthless slut, but there is only one Nedda, and if she's not psycha enough for you, it gets worse, there's only one Lulu.

Outraged lovers kill each other fifty times a day, but there is only one last act of Pagliacci. (Leoncavallo says it really happened, when he was a boy in a rural Italian town -- a multiple murder, live on stage in front of the horrified audience at a Punch and Judy show. q.v. also Fellini's "la Strada.")

This is a nasty life and everybody has to put up with a whole bunch of nasty shit that we don't deserve or were powerless to prevent, most of the time we don't get what we want, and then, when it's all over, you die, probably before you wanted to. As long as that's The Plan, wouldn't you like it if, at the end, 500 people stood up and wept and applauded and threw bouquets of roses at your corpse? And yelled Encore! Encore!


Anonymous patfromch said...

I herewith confess that I never fully heard Die Zauberflöte. I am a bit supicious when it comes to high-pitched voices and never really got the hang of Operas because nobody told me how to listen to them. But I just heard Maria Callas sing "Der Hölle
Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" and I must say: WOW !! BLOODY HELL THAT WOMAN C A N SING !!!This voice can melt hearts and break glass at the same time. Don't understand a bleeding word she is singing (despite tha fact that it's supposed to be deutsch) but that is a minor issue.
Reckon I should definetly get me a copy, buy it, steal it, nick it from emule, whatever. Maybe Mozart IS a bit overrated, but that piece of music was a real revelation
(But I am NOT going to the Opera if I have to wear a tux to get in)

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Please note that I have just spent several hours trying to make some sense of several Dutch websites, and now can offer you 2 performances of Zauberflote in Rotterdam in March, tickets averaging about 33 Euros a pop -- and it says nothing about Tuxedo Required. The production originates from some place called Tatarstan. Better you travel to Rotterdam, I think.

If one of my lottery tickets hits, you can bet I'll be there. I've been to Rotterdam twice, and it's a very interesting city -- all modern architecture (the ancient city was flattened during the War), but really GOOD and INTERESTING modern architecture.

Rotterdam also has the curious distinction of being the home of the Netherlands' (and maybe the World's) first and only Old Junkies' Home -- an astonishing achievement for a nation to have chosen to keep that many heroin addicts that healthy for that long. A friend of mine in international drug reform visited the place and was blown away by the good vibes and the vision of the guy who founded it.

Don't make travel plans until you've double-checked my very questionable translation of these opera schedules. You'll be in Rotterdam, but the Zauberflote might really be in Pittsburgh that night.

Anonymous DespicableTeacher said...

I just arrived from my singing rehearsal. And of course we are doing Mozart. Ave, verum corpus (it 's amazing, wonderful). I just wonder what more could have come out of his talent if he had not died so young, too young!


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