Broadcast

Metropolitan Opera Broadcast: The Magic Flute 

Radio Broadcast of Saturday, January 4, 1 P.M.

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Tamino (Russell Thomas) and the beasts
© Beth Bergman 2014

 

The 2013–14 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is sponsored by 
Toll Brothers, America's luxury home builder®, with generous long-term support from 
The Annenberg Foundation, The Neubauer Family Foundation,
the Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media,
and through contributions from listeners worldwide.
 
The Magic Flute  
(abridged version)
 
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder
English translation by J. D. McClatchy

 

THE CAST     (in order of vocal appearance)
Tamino     tenor, ALEK SHRADER
      sop., WENDY BRYN HARMER
Three Ladies {     mezzo, RENÉE TATUM
      mezzo, MARGARET LATTIMORE
Papageno     baritone, NATHAN GUNN
Queen of the Night     sop., KATHRYN LEWEK
      tenor, STEPHEN PAYNTER
Three Slaves {     tenor, KURT PHINNEY
      ten., CRAIG MONTGOMERY
Monostatos     tenor, JOHN EASTERLIN
Pamina     soprano, HEIDI STOBER
      treble, THATCHER PITKOFF 
Three Spirits {     treble, SETH EWING-CRYSTAL
      treble, ANDRE GULICK
Speaker     bass-baritone, SHENYANG
Sarastro     bass-baritone, ERIC OWENS
Priests {     bass, PAUL CORONA
      tenor, SCOTT SCULLY
Papagena     soprano, ASHLEY EMERSON
Guards {     tenor, ANTHONY KALIL
      bass, JORDAN BISCH
Flute solo: DENIS BOURIAKOV

Conducted by JANE GLOVER

The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
The Metropolitan Opera Children's Chorus

Production: Julie Taymor
Set designer: George Tsypin
Costume designer: Julie Taymor
Lighting designer: Donald Holder
Puppet designers: Julie Taymor,
     Michael Curry
Choreographer: Mark Dendy
Stage director: David Kneuss
Musical preparation: Gregory Buchalter,
     Bradley Moore, Liora Maurer,
     Steven White
Assistant stage director: J. Knighten Smit
Children's chorus director: Anthony Piccolo
English coach: Erie Mills
Prompter: Gregory Buchalter

Abridged production a gift of The Andrew
     W. Mellon Foundation and Bill Rollnick
     and Nancy Ellison Rollnick
Original production of Die Zauberflöte
     a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry R. Kravis

Additional funding from John Van Meter,
     The Annenberg Foundation, Karen and
     Kevin Kennedy, Bill Rollnick and
     Nancy Ellison Rollnick, Mr. and
     Mrs. William R. Miller, Agnes Varis and
     Karl Leichtman, and Mr. and Mrs.
     Ezra K. Zilkha 

THE SCENES   Timings (ET)
 (A mythical land between
the sun and the moon)
 
 
ACT I 1:00–2:59
Sc. 1The realm of the Queen of the Night 
Sc. 2A room in Sarastro's palace 
Sc. 3Outside Sarastro's temple of wisdom 
Sc. 4The temple's inner sanctum 
Sc. 5A labyrinth 
Sc. 6A rose garden 
Sc. 7A vault in the temple 
Sc. 8The grand hall of the temple 
Sc. 9An entrance to the temple 
Sc. 10A hillside 
Sc. 11Entrance to the grand hall of the temple 
Sc. 12Temple of the sun 

Host: Margaret Juntwait
Commentator: Ira Siff
Music producer: Jay David Saks
Producers: Mary Jo Heath, Ellen Keel,
     William Berger
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni, 
    Elena Park
 
For more information on the broadcasts, 
     please visit www.operainfo.org.
 
Send quiz questions to:
     Metropolitan Opera Quiz
     Metropolitan Opera
     30 Lincoln Center
     New York, NY 10023
     or e-mail metquiz@metopera.org.
 
This performance is also being broadcast
     on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SiriusXM
     channel 74.

THE STORY 

Three ladies in the service of the Queen of the Night save the fainting Prince Tamino from a serpent ("A serpent! A monster!"). When they leave to tell the queen, the bird catcher Papageno bounces in and boasts to Tamino that it was he who killed the creature ("I'm Papageno"). The ladies return to give Tamino a portrait of the queen's daughter, Pamina, who they say is enslaved by the evil Sarastro, and they padlock Papageno's mouth for lying. Tamino falls in love with Pamina's face in the portrait ("This portrait's beauty"). The queen, appearing in a burst of thunder, is grieving over the loss of her daughter; she charges Tamino with Pamina's rescue ("My fate is grief"). The ladies give a magic flute to Tamino and silver bells to Papageno to ensure their safety, appointing three spirits to guide them ("Hm! hm! hm! hm!"). 

Sarastro's slave Monostatos pursues Pamina ("You will not dare escape") but is frightened away by the feather-covered Papageno, who tells Pamina that Tamino loves her and intends to save her. Led by the three spirits to the Temple of Sarastro, Tamino is advised by a high priest that it is the queen, not Sarastro, who is evil. Hearing that Pamina is safe, Tamino charms the animals with his flute, then rushes to follow the sound of Papageno's pipes. Monostatos and his cohorts chase Papageno and Pamina but are left helpless by Papageno's magic bells. Sarastro, entering in great ceremony ("Long life to Sarastro"), promises Pamina eventual freedom and punishes Monostatos. Pamina is enchanted by a glimpse of Tamino, who is led into the temple with Papageno. 

Sarastro tells his priests that Tamino will undergo initiation rites ("O Isis and Osiris"). Monostatos tries to kiss the sleeping Pamina ("Men were born to be great lovers"). He is discovered by the Queen of the Night, who dismisses him. She gives her daughter a dagger with which to murder Sarastro ("Here in my heart, Hell's bitterness"). 

The weeping Pamina is confronted and consoled by Sarastro ("Within our sacred temple"). Tamino and Papageno are told by a priest that they must remain silent and refrain from eating, a vow that Papageno immediately breaks when he takes a glass of water from a flirtatious old lady. The old lady vanishes when he asks her name. The three spirits appear to guide Tamino through the rest of his journey and to tell Papageno to be quiet. Tamino remains silent even when Pamina appears, which breaks her heart since she cannot understand his reticence ("Now my heart is filled with sadness"). 

The priests inform Tamino that he has only two more trials to complete his initiation ("Why, beloved, must we part?"). Papageno longs for a cuddly wife but settles for the old lady. When he promises to be faithful she turns into a young Papagena but soon disappears. 

After many dangers, Pamina and Tamino are reunited and face the ordeals of water and fire protected by the magic flute. 

Papageno is saved from attempted suicide by the spirits who remind him that if he uses his magic bells he will find true happiness. When he does, Papagena appears and the two plan for the future and move into a bird's nest ("Pa-pa-pa…"). The Queen of the Night, her three ladies and Monostatos attack the temple but are defeated and banished. Sarastro joins Pamina and Tamino as the people hail Isis, Osiris and the triumph of courage, virtue and wisdom.

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Pamina and the Queen of the Night (Susanna Phillips as Pamina, Erika Miklósa as the Queen)
© Beth Bergman 2014

THE BACKGROUND 

Die Zauberflöte was the last opera completed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. When he died, aged thirty-five, two months after its premiere, the work already had enjoyed a success.

Because of its spoken dialogue, Die Zauberflöte is technically not an opera but a singspiel (song play). Mozart was eager to write another such work in German, for both artistic and financial reasons. (It had been nine years since the last one, Die Entführung aus dem Serail.) The opportunity came in March 1791, when the actor and impresario Emanuel Schikaneder needed a new work for the theater he was managing in a suburb of Vienna.

Originally setting out to create an Oriental fantasy play (a type popular at that time), the authors, both members of the secret fraternal society of Freemasons, founded on aims of high ethical intent, decided midway in the first act to alter the course of the story to honor the recent death of a Masonic leader, Ignatz von Born.

In the premiere, at the Theater auf der Wieden, September 30, 1791, Schika-neder played Papageno; the Queen of the Night was Mozart's sister-in-law Josepha Weber Hofer. The Met premiere was on March 30, 1900 (in Italian). Julie Taymor's 2004 staging for the Met is the basis for the company's new English-language adaptation of the opera, with a libretto by J. D. McClatchy. The McClatchy adaptation had its premiere on December 29, 2006.

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Pamina and Sarastro (Phillips, Morris Robinson as Sarastro)
© Beth Bergman 2014

WHAT TO READ AND HEAR 

A good beginner's guide through the dense symbolic thickets of Mozart's last opera is Peter Branscombe's W. A. Mozart: Die Zauberflöte, an especially fine entry in the excellent Cambridge Opera Handbookseries. Peter Gay's Mozart is a good short biography of the composer (Viking); more comprehensive (but no less accessible for the novice Mozartean) are Maynard Solomon's Mozart: A Life (HarperCollins) and Robert W. Gutman's Mozart: A Cultural Biography (Harcourt).

The list of worthy Die Zauberflötes on disc is a long one, beginning with Thomas Beecham's brisk 1937 reading (Naxos), with the buoyant Gerhard Hüsch as its warm, human Papageno. William Christie and Les Arts Florissants's fleet, light-filled 1996 Die Zauberflöte is ruled by Natalie Dessay's sparkling Queen; John Eliot Gardiner's elegant Archiv recording from the same year gathers Gerald Finley, Christiane Oelze, Cyndia Sieden and Michael Schade. Of the classic LP-era performances now on CD, Karl Böhm's magisterial second recording (DG) boasts Fritz Wunderlich's peerless Tamino, Otto Klemperer's lucid, spirited reading (EMI), the corruscating Queen of Lucia Popp and the expressive, chaste Pamina of Gundula Janowitz.

On DVD, the 2006 Live in HD transmission of Julie Taymor's staging, sung in J. D. McClatchy's English-language translation, is available on the Metropolitan Opera's own label. David McVicar's 2003 Covent Garden Die Zauberflöte (BBC) fields a first-rate ensemble, with Colin Davis conducting Simon Keenlyside (Papageno), Dorothea Röschmann (Pamina), Will Hartmann (Tamino), Diana Damrau (Queen of the Night) and Franz-Joseph Selig (Sarastro). In David Hockney's production, from Glyndebourne (Arthaus), Bernard Haitink paces Felicity Lott (Pamina) and Leo Goeke (Tamino). Jonathan Miller's rather dour Zurich Opera Zauberflöte, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst, is available from Kultur. Ingmar Bergman's 1974 movie, filmed at Drottningholm Court Theatre, retains its breathtaking beauty on the Criterion Collection DVD. spacer

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Current Issue: September 2014 — VOL. 79, NO. 3