Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Magic Flute - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

I have always been extremely fond of Mozart's last opera, The Magic Flute, first performed on 30 September 1791, just 3 months before his premature death on 5 December.  My fondness remains even though the entire subject is somewhat taboo and the language is German, which is completely incomprehensible to me.  It is the music which appeals so greatly, but recently I have found time to study the libretto and write up a fairly detailed synopsis of the story.  I like it so much it might well be worth learning German.

My earliest memories of the work span way back to my childhood when father used to play his 78 rpm gramophone recordings, so a lot of the melodies must have become implanted from a very early age.  Indeed when I was three I was taken to see the opera in Liverpool and as I recall I was terrified of the large serpent on stage attacking Prince Tamino, right at the start  of Act 1, with more than 2 hours to endure to the end.  I think was given a humbug sweet to suck to keep my mind elsewhere but when The Queen of The Night appeared to the sound of loud thunderclaps. also in Act 1,  I promptly swallowed it and it got stuck in my throat.  A few hefty pats on the back dislodged it and I was marched back to my seat with Mother to resume my treat.  Some treat for a three year old!  Other later memories come to mind fondly when Mother used to appear in our bedroom each morning uttering her magic words, "Wake Up! Get Up and Shut Up! . . . . . and then proceeding to murder the Queen of The Night's famous aria. "A vengeful Hell doth pulse within my heart!"  Boy did it sound awful!! We all laughed every time and even Father was amused, even allowing for her musical heresy.

Well, I have found a fantastic version on line of two wonderful arias, sung by my favourite character, The Queen of The Night.  The first aria is from Act 1 when she appears dramatically on stage after a mountain is suddenly split into two to the sound of violent thunder.  She then sings, "O tremble not, fear not, my son!".  She then walks off stage in a very authoritative manner. This version is played by the very charismatic Diana Damrau who must be one of the greatest Queen of The Night virtuosos ever.  Her vocal acrobatics are just wonderful and she is such a good actress too. I have the entire version on DVD, courtesy of my daughter who bought it as a birthday present:

The next aria is the very famous one from Act 2 - the one which my mother attempted but succeeded every time to sound like a dying duck in a thunderstorm.  This aria is sung when she appears to her daughter, Pamina for the first time in the opera.  She thrusts a dagger into Pamina's hand and orders her to murder the high priest Sarastro and to return to her his power, held in The Circle Of The Sun, handed over by her father on his deathbed to the priesthood instead of giving it to her.  She is furious and insists if her daughter does not obey her then she is no daughter of her's and will be disowned.

Nice lady!! "Methinks the lady doth protest too much!!"

Just listen to this, along with some pretty good acting before she lets rip with the aria, "A vengeful Hell doth pulse within my heart!"  Of course it helps a lot if one understands German.

Shakespeare had it right, "Hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn" lol

If you are visiting Marguerite - how about that dress for the Mardi Gras!! It would go down a storm there!


Related Posts with Thumbnails