On September 28th, 1791, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart completed his second to last piece with the support of Emanuel Schikaneder, a well known theatrical figure. The piece was completed only two days before the premiere took place (Kennedy Center). The Magic Flute, one of Mozart’s most praised works, is an enduring allegory about the dichotomy of good versus evil. This well-known opera tells the story of a young prince who searches for true love, while another character, Papageno, gains his happiness by acquiring pleasures such as food and wine (Sherrane).
Mozart found it difficult to live successfully. Although he did acquire wealth in his earlier years, his popularity declined towards the end of the 18th century. He became desperate, and was unable to support his family of eight (Sherrane). In 1791, Emanuel Schikaneder proposed the idea of composing The Magic Flute, and he served as a backbone for Mozart throughout the process. When the curtain was lifted on the night of the premiere, Mozart realized how successful his opera would become (Opera America Center). With the success of The Magic Flute, Mozart was just beginning to become financially stable when an illness brought his life to an end in December of 1791.
Mozart’s purpose for composing this opera is still widely debated today. Scholars do not know whether he completed this work due to his financial situation, his desire to spread his radical ideas, or his love for composing. Historians believe Mozart created this work to express his ideas regarding the German Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was known as “The Age of Reason,” a time where people began to use to logic to question preconceived theories. Mozart incorporates many ideas of the Enlightenment into his opera. Mozart also displays Masonic symbolism throughout. Both Schikaneder and Mozart were Freemasons. During the period of the Enlightenment, certain concepts of Freemasonry were taken up by the political leaders, such as the yearning for liberty and equality.
On September 30th of 1791, Mozart conducted the premiere of his opera at the Theater auf de Wieden in Vienna (Opera America Center). Originally, Mozart’s intended audience was the wealthy elite who could pay a great deal of money to watch him perform. He most likely wanted to target those who would support his Enlightenment ideas and agree with his beliefs that good triumphs evil. However, as his popularity began to decline and his health began to deteriorate, Mozart became despondent. At the time of his first performance, the Theater auf de Wieden was financially unstable (Opera America Center). Mozart was left with no choice but to only hope for the best. On the night of the premiere, hundreds of middle-class people came to watch and listen to his opera. Tickets were sold-out instantly and the theater seats were filled; Mozart was able to succeed once again.
Like most musical compositions, The Magic Flute has multiple tones that constantly shift the mood of the...