Premiere of The Magic Flute is here! Friday 13th of January 2023 will present the wonderful production by Oulu Theatre. Oulu Symphony Orchestra plays in The Magic Flute, and Chief Conductor Rumon Gamba and Erkki Lasonpalo will take turns as conductors. Rumon wrote us some thougts about the beloved opera by Mozart.

“I wonder if, before the Magic Flute, there had ever been an opera with such a wide variety of music? The veritable box of delights we open (beginning with the at first solemn then helter-skelter, zany fairytale music of the overture) surely breaks new ground for opera by combining elements from so many different sources and influences.

This opera was meant as entertainment for the lower to middle classes and we find Mozart at his most playful providing vivid contrasts for his audience so they could easily follow each character and the drama that ensued (musically at least!).

Both acts begin with a series of musical numbers depicting each character’s or groups of characters nature and how they are feeling. For instance, the three ladies begin to sing in perfect harmony before their music becomes more and more angular, disjointed and argumentative. Prince Tamino has music full of emotion, sensitivity and honesty – we know he will try and do the right thing. His music looks forward to that of the lyrical Italian ‘bel canto’ opera whilst the music of the Queen of the Night is much more like Baroque ‘Opera Seria’ (falling out of fashion by Mozart’s time), a trusty old dramatic formula with first a recitative (kind of sung speech) followed by a florid, highly embellished aria. Mozart wrote this role for his sister-in-law who could sing extremely high and very rapidly – supernatural indeed!

Papageno has the most simple, folk-song like music reflecting his endearing, uncomplicated personality – all he wants in life is good food and wine and a good woman! This role was played by Schikaneder (the librettist of the opera) who was rather more of an actor than well-trained singer, another reason that the music is relatively straightforward. Other very distinct music belongs to Sarastro and the Priests (solemn, trustworthy), the 3 boys (angelic, hymn-like), Monostatos (fast, comic, grotesque) and the armed men (ancient sounding, granite-like). Pamina and Papagena sing in the same style as their respective future lovers.

These musical numbers in the first part of each act are interspersed with dialogue, typical of the popular theatre entertainments of the time, but at the end of each of the acts, the dialogue disappears completely while the music becomes continual and ever-evolving, sweeping us along in its dramatic twists and turns. Such are the riches of this music and so clever the changes of pace that we forget all about the dialogue and suddenly we find ourselves much closer to the world of Italian opera (of which Mozart had written many and which other composers would further develop).

Add to this the splendour of the full chorus, unusual sounds from various magical instruments and the sheer energy of the final moments of both acts and no wonder this opera was such a huge success from its very first performance.”

Text: Rumon Gamba
Photo: Kati Leinonen