Monday, 22 March 2010

A sense of wonder (2)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (for some reason or other he is always referred to by the three names) wrote what I consider to some of the most sublime melodies which a person could conceive.

If I had to be restricted to one composer it would be Mozart, and if he is not in “heaven” then I don’t want to be there.
 (On the other hand, I’ll leave if Richard Wagner is there! - not on account of his music, but because of his vile anti Semitism)

Mozart died at aged 35, just two months after the premiere performance of his “The Magic Flute” (“Die Zauberflote”), the opera which I enjoyed yesterday afternoon. This opera has always been a crowd pleaser with what yesterday’s programme notes called “a combination of low comedy and Masonic-inspired ritual”.

Mozart and his librettist Emanuel Schikander were Masons in the “Free and Accepted” Masonic order which, again according to the programme notes, was “known for their liberal views and feared by autocratic monarchs”.

The opera’s plot is of course, preposterous - with loves fond, lost and found again. Sadly there are no tragic suicides or ghastly murders!  It is set in Egypt in a temple to Isis and Orisis  (coded words for a Masonic temple).

Yet no-one cares about the plot or setting in opera. The music is all that counts.

The “sense of wonder” of the 10 year old John Michael Povey (of which I wrote yesterday) returned to him (me) 55 years later at the Sarasota Opera’s matinee performance of “Die Zauberflote” – March 21st 2010.

For you see, I “know” much of the music, having heard it on the radio, and on the two disc C.D. which I have. But I had never before attended a performance of this opera.

So yesterday afternoon was akin to meeting a long time pen-pal for this first time, and then discovering that you truly like this pal.

I was spell bound for the more than two and a half hour production.

The moment of sheer joy and wonder for me was about 34 minutes into the opera when Pamina (the heroine), and Papageno (a buffoon) sing a duet in praise of married love “Bei Mannem, welche Liebe fuhlen”.

This, for me, is one of the two greatest tunes from Mozart (the other being his “Ave Verum Corpus”)

I have sung the Ave Verum Corpus ( and I want it to be sung at my funeral!).

But although I have rejoiced in the Pamina/Papegeno duet so many times as I have listened to recordings, I had never before heard it sung “live”, so to speak, in the Opera itself.

I was on the edge of my chair in ecstasy. Yes, in ecstasy!

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