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!


  1. Well, first of all I have to say that I'm very impressed that you translated all that German! What an accomplishment and at least it kept you out of mischief for a few days! haha.

    Funny story about your first introduction to the opera. Yes, I can see why a three year old would have been terrified! OH my!
    You mom sounds like a good natured woman. Did you get your sense of humor from her? I can just imagine being awoken to those lines in a dying duck voice. hahaha...

    delightful post, Eddie. Really fun.

  2. Hi Betsy - well I think my sense of humour sprang from both my mum and dad. My sister and I had a very happy childhood which helped but dad was a bit eccentric and so am I sometimes LOL

  3. You are so blessed to have such a wonderful background in music, Eddie. To think that a 3-year old was attending an opera...(with or without a sweet treat) is amazing to me. Your early exposure to these classics and your parents' love of music has certainly enriched your love of music.
    Your parents brought you up to love and appreciate fine music.
    Regarding the videos, Diana Damrau can absolutely let those notes go, can't she! Incredible voice....and acting skills, too.
    Thank you for sharing.

  4. I totally agree with Betsy about the German being impressive, but I don't know if anything could keep you out of mischief for a few days! LOL And you're right about her dress being perfect for Mardi Gras! LOL You are hilarious! Cheers, cher!

  5. Eddie... "a dying duck in a thunderstorm". LOL.

    You are too funny, and I share your love of Mozart and opera. My godson is studying opera, and we are so excited. He is fourteen and has a gorgeous voice.



  6. This version of Diana Damrau singing the most famous aria as Queen of the Night is my MOST favorite version of this aria!! I have the NY Met/Julie Taymor version of Magic Flute on video and the singer for QOTN in that version is good but feels too sweet for me. QOTN is a dark and powerful character and needs a singer who can pull off that darkness and Ms. Damrau is one of the best! I wish I could have worked on costumes for such a production when I worked for the LA Opera, but I did get to work on interesting costumes for a contemporary version of Madame Butterfly, which has an equally amazing famous aria =-) Thanks for sharing you love of the opera Eddie! I'll be sure to check in for more thoughts on great music!

  7. So! This is where you hide when you are not annoying me !

    1. I used to call it sanctuary but now you have discovered it I shall have to rename it. I'm thinking of a suitable title . . . lol

  8. Well you certainly had a unique introduction to classical music. :o) Lovely.


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