Mozart’s Opera: Die Zauberflöte
History of its creation, first performance, and reception
In Vienna ,November 1790 a German impresario Emanuel Schikaneder pricked Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts creativity when suggested that he and Mozart should collaborate in an opera for Schikaneder’s theatre. Mozart had long waited to write a German opera again, and in that time of Mozart’s career he needed work because his popularity in Vienna was faiding. He accepted the offer and started on one of his well known opera The Magical flute. The sUbject adapted by Schikaneder from a book of oriental fairy-tales. This opera was inspired by a story called Lulu, or The magic flute. – Mann, W. 1977. The operas of Mozart. London: Cassell. Page 593-594.
The work premiered on 30 September 1791 at Schikaneder’s theatre, the Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna, just two months before Mozarts premature death. The firt puplication of this opera is On 28 December 1791, three and a half weeks after Mozart’s death, his widow Constanze offered to send a manuscript score of The Magic Flute to the electoral court in Bonn. Nikolaus Simrock published this text in the first full-score edition (Bonn, 1814), claiming that it was “in accordance with Mozart’s own wishes” (Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, 13 September 1815).- “First full-score edition (Bonn, 1814)”. Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard Library. And Freyhan, Michael (2009). The Authentic Magic Flute Libretto: Mozart’s Autograph or the First Full Score Edition?. Scarecrow Press.
On the reception of the opera, Mozart scholar Maynard Solomon writes:
Although there were no reviews of the first performances, it was immediately evident that Mozart and Schikaneder had achieved a great success, the opera drawing immense crowds and reaching hundreds of performances during the 1790s. Says Solomon, Maynard (1995). Mozart: a life. New York, NY: Harper Collins.p 487.
As Mozart’s letters show, he was very pleased to have achieved such a success. Solomon continues:
Mozart’s delight is reflected in his last three letters, written to Constanze, who with her sister Sophie was spending the second week of October in Baden. “I have this moment returned from the opera, which was as full as ever”, he wrote on 7 October, listing the numbers that had to be encored. “But what always gives me the most pleasure is the silent approval! You can see how this opera is becoming more and more esteemed.” … He went to hear his opera almost every night, taking along relatives. States Solomon, Maynard (1995). Mozart: a life. New York, NY: Harper Collins. P487.The opera celebrated its 100th performance in November 1792, though Mozart did not have the pleasure of witnessing this milestone, as he had died 5 December 1791. The opera was first performed outside Vienna (21 September 1792) in Lemberg, then in Prague. It then made (Branscombe) “triumphal progress through Germany’s opera houses great and small”, and with the early 19th century spread to essentially all the countries of Europe—and eventually, everywhere in the world—where opera is cultivated. As Branscombe documents, the earlier performances were often of highly altered, sometimes even mutilated, versions of the opera (see Ludwig Wenzel Lachnith). Productions of the past century have tended to be more faithful to Mozart’s music, though faithful rendering of Mozart and Schikaneder’s original (quite explicit) stage directions and dramatic vision continues to be rare; with isolated exceptions, modern productions strongly reflect the creative preferences of the stage director.
The Magic Flute is presently among the most frequently performed of all operas. – Says Branscombe, Peter (1991). Die Zauberflöte. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. P163.
Mozart’s Opera: Die Zauberflöte