Yes, as noted opera scholar Falco knows, it was on this day in 1791 that The Magic Flute premiered. With music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder, The Magic Flute is perhaps the most famous and most beloved of Mozart’s 22 operas.
The Magic Flute was the crowning achievement of Mozart’s years long collaboration with Schikaneder’s theater troupe, which had previously included the composing of art songs and a few arias in the comic opera Der Stein der Weisen (The Philosopher’s Stone). As the troupe was not a traditional opera company, Mozart had to write a score that had something for both virtuosos and comic actors with small ranges. Additionally, the score needed to not be so complex that non-professional singers wouldn’t get lost. For instance, the main vocal lines of arias for the comic character of Papageno often feature a string intro that mirror the vocal line, allowing the actor playing Papageno to easily find his note.
The opera itself is a fairytale story of a brave, but prideful, knight’s quest to rescue the daughter of the treacherous Queen of the Night from a wicked sorcerer. When the opera premiered at Vienna’s Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden, with Mozart conducting the orchestra, it was an instant smash hit. During the opera’s initial brief run, crowds came night after night to see the show. This greatly raised Mozart’s spirits, as he had recently contracted a mysterious illness. Over the ensuing decade, the opera was performed hundreds of times by many different theater companies. It remains an operatic staple to this day. Sadly, Mozart was not able to see The Magic Flute achieve such success, as he died from that mysterious ailment just a little over two months after The Magic Flute premiered.
There’s a great little drink called The Magic Flute. It’s a sweet, after dinner drink that fittingly uses Mozart White Chocolate Liqueur as its main spirit.
The Magic Flute
- 2 ounces Mozart White Chocolate Liqueur
- 1 ounce Amaretto Almond Liqueur
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Tomorrow: The Boston Americans take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in a game that was the first of its kind.