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Wednesday
Nov042015

OperaNow! #243: Hairless Tamino and His 2 Flutes

Why was Andrea Bocelli at the Richard Tucker Gala???...Another Opera Week in America has come and gone...More non-news with the New York City Opera revival...Opera Lyra Ottowa shuts down...Domingo survives galbladder scare.

In the Oliver's Corner final installment of The Magic Flute: The Hero's Journey and Peeta is Pamina.

This week features Michael, The OC and Doug Dodson.

Reader Comments (4)

Thanks for your mention of Ottawa's Opera Lyra. Just for context, this was not a small "start up" company, but one of Canada's main regional companies. They had had a close brush with bankruptcy a few seasons ago, but seemed to emerge from that, so their sudden closing was a bit of a shock. I knew some singers who were literally on their way to Ottawa to appear in two new Canadian operas the company was producing when they found out Lyra was closing. Here in Ontario, we've lost our two regional companies (first Opera Hamilton, now Opera Lyra) in the past couple of years. The COC is now the only larger, more established opera company in our province. Now, of course, during this same period there has been a proliferation of small, indie companies which is great and certainly fills a gap. However, let's face it, many of these small companies can only pay minimal fees - opportunities for artists to work on a larger scale seem to be drying up. There's also the issue that for goodness sake, Ottawa is our nation's capital and it can't even support a modest opera company which was only producing 2 mainstage works per season. It speaks in part at least, to the perils of relying so much on corporate and individual financial support.

November 11, 2015 | Unregistered Commentergianmarco

Michael, I think you've been watching too much "Fargo"; your Canadian accent has morphed into Minnesotan :-)

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSQLWitch

Just wanted to say that although I've not had time to comment recently, I have been listening and greatly enjoying recent episodes. Really enjoyed the interview with the guy from Memphis opera, his enthusiasm was great. Also, I know it's not as relevant now, but just in regard to the Mikado issue from a while ago - the Jonathan Miller production is a great way to sidestep the problems with costume/make-up/stage business.

November 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMenuet alla Zoppa

Nice overview of Zauberfloete the last couple of episodes... although i don't quite get how "Ach Ich fuhl's" is cold or calculated on Pamina's part, it always seems like true heartbreak to me.

If listener's want to read some fascinating background on Schikaneder, Mozart, et al involved in putting it together, and how and why so much Freemasonry symbolism was inserted into the story, read HC Robbins Landon's book "1791, Mozart's Last Year." Landon's basic premise is that Flute was an attempt to counteract Leopold II's crackdown on Freemasonry in light of the upheaval in France and the idea of "freedom" that had taken hold in America, by Freemasons over here (Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, etc). The idea of self governance had come to Europe via the French armies fighting in the American colonies under Lafayette, many of them becoming Freemasons themselves. Mozart, with Schikaneder, was playing another game of political chicken, just as he and daPonte had done with Figaro, while Emperor Leopold was trying to crack down on the Masons and prevent revolution spreading to Austria.

Peter Shaffer's "Amadeus" has Mozart declaring that he was not interested in politics, but that is far from the truth; his membership in the Masons should dispel that notion. Figaro is blatant, Don Giovanni perhaps a bit more subtle, but he still has every character on the stage, representing every social class, stare down the footlights at the end of Act One, claiming "Viva la liberta!" in C major, to a military march, and it's the first moment with all the characters on stage at once, and it's the loudest sound we've heard since the overture. Mozart and daPonte knew full well what they were doing. What's surprising is that they got away with it.

Robbins finds that it was vital that Flute be presented as a "popular" German language opera with a message that the common people would get; hence the inclusion of so many different styles, popular folk-style tunes, along with the symbolism, mixing low-brow comedy with a deeply moral message. "1791" is worth reading, even if you don't buy all his conclusions, not a difficult or challenging read for a musician, plenty of music examples and references, and should change the way most of us think about Mozart's intentions.

August 30, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdave

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