Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Opera in two acts
Libretto: Emanuel Schikaneder
World premiere: 30 September 1791, Vienna
Premiere: 11 December 2016
Production: Komische Oper, Berlin
In the original German 

The world premiere of The Magic Flute took place on 30 September 1791 in Vienna, with Mozart conducting. The opera was enthusiastically received, playing to a packed house every night. Mozart was so happy that he sold his horse, drank black coffee and smoked a pipe. He brought his mother-in-law, his seven-year-old son Carl, a French horn player friend, and even the envious Antonio Salieri to the theatre. The Magic Flute is ruled by the magic number three. There are three (repeated) chords in the intrada, Three Ladies, Three Boys, Sarastro’s three temples: Wisdom, Reason and Nature; the lovers Tamino and Pamina have to undergo three tests: silence, being apart, and fire and water. Even the production is the third staging of the opera at this theatre since it was rebuilt, after the ‘space’ version of Laco Adamik and the ‘school’ version of Achim Freyer. The current version’s director, Australia’s Barrie Kosky who is the artistic director of Berlin’s Komische Oper, has been a part of the opera world for over twenty years. He invited original British theatre group 1927 to work with him. Together, they have combined silent film, live video and live music, animation and pantomime. This kind of staging, in Barrie Kosky’s view, is close to the Viennese theatre of Emanuel Schikaneder, the man who inspired and wrote the libretto for The Magic Flute. Mozart confessed in a letter to his wife: ‘When I go to the piano and sing something from the opera, I have to stop right away – it affects me so’. Mozart was affected by something he’d created himself? Then what are we supposed to say? Don’t we wait with beating hearts for the aria of the Queen of the Night, the dance of Monostatos, or Papageno and Papagena’s duet?