Peabody Opera Theatre presents
 

Die Zauberflöte

(The Magic Flute)

by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder
 

Peabody Concert Orchestra

Hajime Teri Murai, music director

Eileen Cornett, musical preparation

Roger Brunyate, stage director

with designers from the Maryland Institute College of Art
 

Wednesday–Saturday March 12–15 2008, at 7:30 PM
Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall
Peabody Conservatory of Music
1 East Mt. Vernon Place
Baltimore, Maryland
 
Admission $25 / Seniors $15 / Students with ID $10
Box Office: 410/659-8100 x2, or book online

Sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Allan D. Jensen

with additional support from the Maryland State Arts Council

Photographs            Peabody Opera home

Emanuel Schikaneder as Papageno  
Emanuel Schikaneder
as Papageno
The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte) was the last of Mozart’s operas to reach the stage, premiering in Vienna’s Theater auf der Wieden on September 30, 1791. Though very revealing of the composer’s personality, it marked a radical departure in style. His previous opera for Vienna, Così fan tutte (1790), used a highly artificial classical structure to lay bare the intimate psychology of ordinary human beings, exploring subjects such as love, loyalty, and sexual fidelity. In his two final operas, whose composition overlapped one another in 1791, Mozart split the classical from the romantic, putting on a different style for each like a borrowed overcoat, but nonetheless making it very much his own. For La clemenza di Tito, given in Prague less than a month before Flute, he revisited an older libretto by Metastasio, and wrote an opera seria extolling the virtues of an enlightened monarchy. For The Magic Flute, he accepted a commission from his friend Emanuel Schikaneder, the director of a popular theater at the edge of the city, to write a Singspiel (or musical play with dialogue) incorporating many of the popular elements that Schikaneder’s audiences so loved.

One of the main sources for Schikaneder’s libretto was a collection of oriental fairy-tales called Dschinnistan. One of these stories, entitled “Lulu, or the Magic Flute,” involves a young prince (the Lulu of the title; Shickaneder wisely changed the name) sent by a good fairy to rescue her daughter imprisoned in the castle of an evil magician; she gives him a magic flute that will transform his shape and charm the ears of any creature that hears it. Other stories in the collection suggested the vaguely Egyptian setting, the three boys that are given to the prince to guide him on his way, and the addition of a second pair of lovers. Schikaneder wrote one of these roles for himself: the bird-catcher Papageno, far from heroic, not entirely truthful, but with a kindly heart. Mozart’s opera begins much like its source. Tamino, as the young prince is called, is charged by the Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter Pamina from the hands of the evil wizard Sarastro; since he has just fallen in love with her portrait, he readily agrees. He is to be accompanied by Papageno, who had stumbled into the action a little earlier, they are to be protected respectively by a magic flute and magic bells, and three boys are assigned to guide them on their way. Papageno is the first to find Pamina, and he springs her from the clutches of her jailer, Monostatos. So far, so good.

Set design by Jingyao Guo
First Appearance of the Queen of the Night
Design sketch by Jingyao Guo

But at this point, the story gets turned around. When Tamino arrives in Sarastro’s domain, he finds himself in a setting that reflects order and enlightenment (the classical element appearing in this least classical of operas). A solemn figure, the Speaker, emerges to interview him and leaves Tamino in darkness, questioning all his assumptions. But when Sarastro arrives, it becomes clear that far from being evil, he is the high priest of the Brotherhood of the Sun; he has abducted Pamina only to protect her from the influence of her mother, who is now seen for the malevolent power that she is. Tamino agrees that, in order to win Pamina, he will undergo the trials for initiation into the Brotherhood; Papageno very reluctantly goes with him, and only because he is told that this is his only hope of winning his own female counterpart, his Papagena.

Set design by Sofya Karash
The Courtyard of Sarastro’s Temple
Design sketch by Sofya Karash

In the second act, everybody appears in their true colors. Tamino remains true to his oath of silence, even though it means deeply wounding Pamina. Papageno fails at almost everything; he meets Papagena but, failing to see through her disguise as an old lady, loses her again. Monostatos tries to rape Pamina, but is prevented by the Queen of the Night; she, however, threatens to disown Pamina if she will not murder Sarastro. The opera reaches its climax in the Act II finale (arguably the greatest of all Mozart’s last-act finales, and certainly the widest-ranging). Pamina, bent on suicide, is rescued by the three boys, who explain the truth; they return later to perform the same service for Papageno and reunite him with his Papagena. Pamina is reunited with Tamino, and accompanies him on the final trials, where they must enter a canyon guarded by two Armed Men and there go through fire and water, protected only by his playing of the flute. The Queen of the Night attempts to storm the castle, accompanied by Monostatos and her three Ladies. But they are driven back by the rising sun and the dawn of the enlightened rule of Tamino, who takes over the Brotherhood from Sarastro.

Set design by Eamonn Donnelly
The Trial by Fire
Design sketch by Eamonn Donnelly

Yes, it’s a fairy-tale, a fantasy, a mish-mash of elements from many sources that don’t quite hang together. But the opera has held the stage for two centuries and continues to do so, for several reasons. One is the sheer quality and variety of the music, which ranges from the simple folklike songs of Papageno to the huge chorale prelude in the Bach style that accompanies the scene with the Armed Men. Another is the perennial delight of the color, fantasy, and magic; popular entertainments to this day ranging from the British pantomime to Disney’s Lion King call upon the very same elements. Then there is the deep seriousness that Mozart and Schikaneder gave to the scenes of the Brotherhood; it is not so much that both men were Freemasons and reflected the values of their order, but that Mozart — in contrast to the hysterical coloratura of the Queen of the Night — found the musical language through which to express simple goodness and reason.

  The trial by water; sketch by Max Slevogt (1868-1932)
  The Trial by Water
  sketch by Max Slevogt (1868–1932)
A fourth reason, which has special relevance in a Conservatory of Music, is that it is an opera about growing up and coming of age — exactly the situation of the young singers in real life. Tamino is every young man trying to make his way; Pamina every young woman sorting out her values. What makes the story especially interesting is that the normal expectations are denied. Tamino, for instance, sets out to slay dragons and rescue maidens through his courage. But the opera opens with the dragon about to slay him, and although he sets off to rescue Pamina, it is actually Papageno who sets her free. Tamino has to learn that it is not through outward deeds that he will find himself, but through the inward qualities of his heart and soul. By the same token, the fact that Papageno is a coward doesn’t in the end matter very much; he too wins through because, as Pamina tells him, he has a loving heart.

The opera, which will be sung and spoken in German with English supertitles, is conducted by Hajime Teri Murai and directed by Roger Brunyate. Costumes are based on designs by the late John Lehmeyer. For the stage design, we have taken an unusual course. Rather than attempting to compress such a diverse opera into a single visual style, we are instead delighting in its variety and commissioning a new set of images from many different designers, to be used with the projection screens designed by Matthew Saunders for Les contes d’Hoffmann last year. The five designers involved — Eamonn Donnelly, Jingyao Guo, Sofya Karash, Myoung Eun Kim, and Megan Russell — are students in the Illustration Department of the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), working under the guidance of their chair, Whitney Sherman. Some of their preliminary sketches are shown on this page; others will be added as they become available.


Singers in the Production
Pausing the cursor over singers’ names
will show some previous roles
* Performing on Wednesday 12 and Friday 14
** Performing on Thursday 13 and Saturday 15
Queen of the Night Kathryn Guthrie
Jessica Lennick
*
**
Pamina Jihee Kim
Solen Mainguené
*
**
Papagena Jessica Abel
Sarah Hershman
**
*
Tamino William Davenport
David Kirkwood
**
*
Monostatos Adam Caughey
Christopher Manna
**
*
Papageno Jason Buckwalter
Andrew Sauvageau
*
**
Speaker Hirotaka Kato
Julian Ledford
**
*
Sarastro Eunseo Koo
Jeffrey Tarr
*
**
1st Lady Ji Eun Park
Amanda Varrone
**
*
2nd Lady Caitlin Fischer
Madelyn Wanner
*
**
3rd Lady Yun Kyong Lee
Tasha Thomas
*
**
1st Spirit Elizabeth Hungerford
Jessica Thompson
*
**
2nd Spirit Jocelyn Thomas
Caitlin Vincent
*
**
3rd Spirit Marisa Del Campo
Laura Koznarek
*
**
1st Priest Paul Brown
Jiwoon Kwak
**
*
2nd Priest Byeong Jeon
Paul Mulligan
**
*
1st Armed Man Jiwoon Kwak
Peter Wen-Chih Lee
*
**
2nd Armed Man Hirotaka Kato
Julian Ledford
**
*