“THE MOST SUBLIME IDEAS BROUGHT UPON THE OPERATIC STAGE”: FIRST EDITION OF THE FULL SCORE OF THE MAGIC FLUTE
MOZART, Wolfgang Amadeus. Il Flauto Magico, dramma per musica dal Signor W. A. Mozart. Die Zauberfloete, Grosse Oper in zwey Ackten von W. A. Mozar. Bonn: N. Simrock, . Folio, contemporary three-quarter brown sheep rebacked with original spine laid down, original red morocco spine label, original marbled boards. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $25,000.
First edition of the full score of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, “an achievement unique in opera.” Fully engraved and in contemporary binding.
The Magic Flute finds its ancestry in the Singspiel, the native German tradition of popular comic opera from which it derives its spoken dialogue instead of recitatives and its fantastical characters and events. It weds to these traits a grandeur and nobility that point toward the serious German national opera. One of the towering achievements of Mozart's final period, The Magic Flute reflects the tastes of two quite different audiences: firstly, the Viennese public, who expected magic and daring deeds against a background of "Oriental" spectacle and, secondly, the Freemasons. Both Mozart and the librettist, Schikaneder, belonged to the Order, and their opera reflects the Masonic ideal of the "regeneration of humanity by moral means." "Mozart's very serious interest in freemasonry, which in its solemn ritual furnished an edifying contrast to the frivolity and uncongeniality of the existing state of church music, inspired him with the most sublime ideas hitherto brought upon the operatic stage… Thus Die Zauberflöte is an achievement unique in opera, combining as it does the farcical gorgeousness of a pantomime with the solemnity of a ritual and the contemporary interest of a political satire" (Britannica). The score "is among the most varied produced by Mozart. Papageno's amusing little songs, with their simple folk-song character, are charmingly ingenuous… In an altogether different vein are the Queen of the Night's two brilliant coloratura arias, with their fire and dramatic force… The two great arias of Sarastro… have such majesty that Bernard Shaw once called this the only music he knew that could be put into the mouth of God" (Cross, 2: 529). First edition of the full score, preceded only by a piano-vocal score. Haberkamp, 378. Köchel, 620. Hirsch IV:1574. Small inkstamp to front free endpaper.
Plates fine, light wear to contemporary binding. Important and rare.