Zauberflöte, Die (‘The Magic Flute’)
- Julian Rushton
(‘The Magic Flute’)
Singspiel in two acts, K620, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder ; Vienna, Theater auf der Wieden, 30 September 1791.
Die Zauberflöte is an allegory set in no real locality or historical period. Ancient Egypt is evoked by the mysteries, but early productions also showed Islamic influence on costumes and neo-classical architecture appropriate to the Enlightenment. The exotic costumes and setting (and Tamino’s nationality) are a mask; Mozart and Schikaneder intended a coded representation of Freemasonry.
Carl Ludwig Gieseke (who originally played the First Slave) said many years later that he had contributed as much as Schikaneder to the libretto, but his claims are now generally discredited. The sources of the libretto are diverse. Wieland provided the title (Lulu, oder Die Zauberflöte from Dschinnistan) and the source of Gieseke and Wranitzky’s opera Oberon (both 1789). Egyptological sources include Gebler’s Thamos, König in Agypten...