Looking Again at The Magic Flute by Barbara Ardinger

I have just spent a week watching four productions of Mozart and Schikaneder’s 1791 opera. Four in a row! Now we all know that I adore musical theater more than almost anything else in the world. Operetta. Nelson and Jeanette. Fred and Ginger. Broadway musicals (but not the movies made from them that rewrote them completely). But opera?? Certainly not Italian opera seria. It’s just too loud. Besides, why isn’t La Boheme sung in French? Carmen in Spanish? Madame Butterfly in Japanese? Aida in Egyptian? Turandot in Chinese?

All right—yes, these are ridiculous questions. I’ve seen La Boheme and Turandot live. I’ve seen The Magic Flute live two or three times. Mozart is my favorite classical composer. Born in Salzburg (which was then part of the Holy Roman Empire and now is the site of an annual Mozart festival), he began composing at age five, and he and his sister Nannerl toured the courts of 18th-century Europe and performed before Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. (BTW, while much of his story is told in the play and film Amadeus, Mozart was not murdered by Salieri. He died from a highly contagious miliary fever.)

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