9781561633500 / 156163350X

P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations, V. 1: The Magic Flute


Publisher:NBM Publishing



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About the book:

Mozart's "fairy-tale opera" is one of the most beloved works in the repertory. It is a favorite for children's first exposure to opera as it is an enchanting work jammed with melodies that are both noble and playful. The Magic Flute is also one of the most problematic works in the repertory, full of staging difficulties (the hero enters, pursued by a monstrous serpent, and promptly faints--not very heroic of him) and some elements that seem unpleasantly sexist and racist to today's sensibilities. And there's the perennial malcontent who's all too eager to point out that The Magic Flute is not really a grand opera in any case, but a mere singspiel, with spoken dialogue and coarse comedy, no better than an operetta. And what's with all the Masonic imagery?

The story certainly has problems, but the score--one of Mozart's last--overcomes them all as surely as the Three Ladies scrag the serpent and Sarastro and the forces of truth and reason overcome the wicked Queen of the Night. This music has it all, from the heroic notes of Sarastro and the priests to the humor of the bird catcher Papageno. Don't overlook the wonderful ensembles of the Drei Damen and Drei Knaben; Mozart blends trios of soprano voices in a way that's undiluted magic, and that no one even came close to imitating until more than two centuries later, when Richard Strauss took the master's lessons to heart.

You can examine for yourself just how Mozart achieved his effect with this full orchestral score from Dover. It's a reprint of another publisher's out-of-copyright score (C.F. Peters of Leipzig, in this particular case); also, there's not a word of English in it once you get past Dover's title pages and the translation of the table of contents that they've thoughtfully provided. What you will get is all of the instrumental parts (note that most pianists will be unable to do much with this score!), all of the vocal parts, and acres of uncut German dialogue. Dover scores are a reasonably priced resource for singers, instrumentalists, conductors, and anyone who cares deeply about the opera.

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