The Magic Flute


Die Zauberflöte (The magic flute) is among the best known of the 22 operas written by the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–91). Mozart composed the opera in the spring and summer of 1791, with the exception of the Overture and the March of the Priests at the beginning of Act II. These parts were completed only a few days before the premiere on September 30 of that year. Shown here is Mozart’s original manuscript score. During the initial phase of work, Mozart normally wrote only the melody portion and the bass line, as well as several structurally significant figures in the middle range. Only later did he add the remaining instruments, in some cases using a different color of ink. Various colors of ink can be seen on many pages of the score, and the differences between them provide insights into Mozart’s process of composition. Mozart’s final opera, The Magic Flute was controversial for what it revealed about freemasonry; both the composer and librettist Emanuel Schikaneder were masons. The opera is an allegory concerning the struggle between The Queen of the Night, representing darkness and repression of knowledge, and Sarastro, an enlightened benevolent monarch whose rule is based on wisdom and reason. Tamino and Papageno struggle by trial and error between these opposing forces to find a heaven on Earth and enduring love. The fable is both profound and fantastical, and the work is a staple of opera houses worldwide.

Last updated: January 8, 2018