2012/13 - Lyric Opera of Chicago

lyricopera.org

2012/13 - Lyric Opera of Chicago

BACKSTAGE

PASS!

Inside this issue:

P. 2 Letter From the Editor

P. 3 4-Step Opera Prep

The Magic Flute

P. 4 - The Story of an Opera

P. 8 A New Musical Form Sweeping the Land

P. 9 Mozart Speaks - An Interview with the Composer

P. 11 How to Write a Libretto

P. 12 Everyone’s a Critic - Writing your Own Review of

an Opera Performance

P. 13 Opera? Singspiel? - What is the difference?

The Magic Flute

P. 14 - An Operatic Allegory

P. 15 The Enlightenment

Authors: Jason A. Helfer and Stephen T. Schroth, Educational Studies Department, Knox College

Photos: Dan Rest

See Backstage Pass! in color at www.lyricopera.org/education/opera-in-the-neighborhoods.aspx

The Magazine of

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s

2012/13

Opera in the Neighborhoods


FROM THE

2

Editor

Welcome to the latest edition of

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s student magazine!

is your ticket to the world of

opera – where you’ll learn about the history,

mystery, and splendor of this timeless art form.

The first operas were written in Italy over 400 years ago.

Since then, composers from around the world have

used opera to combine the power of the written word,

the expressiveness of the human voice and orchestral

instruments, and the drama of the theater. This unique combination of singers, orchestra, drama, costumes,

dance, staging, sets, and lighting offers something for everyone to enjoy. This issue of Backstage Pass! will

prepare you to experience Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Opera in the Neighborhoods production of The Magic Flute (or

Die Zauberflöte in the original German).

Backstage Pass! will help you enjoy this funny and heartwarming performance by introducing you to:

• the story of The Magic Flute

• the way operas are constructed

• the composer of the opera, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

• the historical setting of The Magic Flute

• how to be a great audience member

Dear Impresario,

I like opera well enough; I think the sets, costumes, and lighting are really cool. What do you think is more

important: the music and words or what is on stage?

Thanks!

Sort of an opera fan

Dear Sort of,

ASK THE IMPRESARIO

That is a difficult question that composers and people who think about music have been asking for centuries. There

is no doubt that the sets, costumes, and so forth add visual beauty and drama. At the same time, think about how

the staging supports the music and words, and how the words and music support the staging. The combination

of music, literature, theatre, and visual arts is what makes opera so powerful. A good balance between these elements

is essential for a successful production. Consider how you might respond to a production of The Magic Flute

if it was set in the year 2000 in Chicago, or in prehistoric times?


“I am the queen of the night!

Read this book....if you know

what’s good for you!”

Understanding opera is not that difficult – even

though there are people singing really loud, without

microphones, often in a different language. Here is a

brief introduction to opera with four simple steps to

help you follow along.

Operas can be grouped into two very broad

categories: comic and serious. The Magic Flute

is unique because it contains both comic and

serious themes.

The plots, or stories, of many operas center on

love, with characters falling in love, out of love, or

both. In The Magic Flute, noble characters like a

prince and a princess fall in love just like anyone

else.

In most operas, either a soprano (soh-PRAHno),

the highest female voice range or a mezzosoprano

(MET-zo soh-PRAH-no), the middle

female voice range, are in or out of love with a

tenor (TEH-nohr), the highest male voice range.

If someone tries to help the soprano and tenor

(or tries to make things difficult), it is usually a

baritone (BEAR-ih-tone), the middle male voice

range. And, in many operas, the bad guy (or

father figure, or silly man, or wise person) is

played by the lowest male vocal range – a bass

(BASE).

eh hem.....me me me me me

The Magic Flute also includes a character named

The Queen of the Night. The Queen of the Night

is a coloratura soprano (co-loh-rah-TOO-rah soh-

PRAH-no). A coloratura soprano must have great

vocal agility and might be frivolous, funny, or even

crazy. In The Magic Flute, the Queen of the Night

is crazy for revenge!

So, how will this help you understand the plot of

Mozart’s The Magic Flute?

• The Magic Flute is a love story.

• The tenor (Tamino) falls in love with a soprano

(Pamina). The baritone (Pagageno) is a kind

man who helps the tenor and the soprano while

searching for his own true love (Papagena – a

soprano). The bass is a wise priest (Sarastro) who

helps the tenor, soprano, and baritone throughout

the opera. The coloratura soprano (The Queen of

the Night) simply wants revenge.

• The Magic Flute is both funny (when Papageno is

on stage) and serious (when Tamino, Pamina, The

Queen of the Night, and Sarastro are on stage).

Confused? Keep reading and the story of The Magic

Flute will give you more details.

Book your next birding adventure with me!

With bread to share, and flute in hand

my tour’s unlike anything in the land!

Papageno

experienced guide and owner

3


4

TIME: A Mythical Time PLACE: A Mythical Place

CAST OF CHARACTERS:

• Pamina


Tamino


Papageno


Sarastro


The


Papagena

Three

(pah-MEE-nah) – a princess (soprano)

(tah-MEE-noh) – a prince (tenor)

(pah-pah-GAY-noh) – a bird catcher (baritone)

(zah-RAHS-troh) – a priest (bass)

Queen of the Night (coloratura soprano)

(pah-pah-GAY-nah) – Papageno’s sweetheart (soprano)

Ladies – attendants to the Queen of the Night (soprano, soprano, mezzo soprano)

This is a story of Prince Tamino and how he met the

beautiful Princess Pamina. Once upon a time, Tamino

was attacked by a scary monster. Magical servants of

the Queen of the Night appear and save him. They send

Tamino and his friend Papageno on a quest. Together

they set out to save Princess Pamina from Sarastro,

enemy of the Queen of the Night.

CHAPTER ONE

One day, while walking through the forest, Tamino

becomes lost. No matter where he turns, he cannot find

his way home. He becomes more frantic and scared

that he is lost. Suddenly, he turns a corner and runs into

a scary monster. The monster lunges after Tamino.

Tamino runs as fast as he can, but the monster is still

at his heels. Finally, Tamino faints from fear. As the

monster prepares to strike, Three Ladies suddenly

appear and use their magic to kill the monster. The

monster folds, gasps, and dies.

These ladies are attendants of the Queen of the Night,

and they soon find the unconscious prince. Each lady

speaks of how handsome, noble, and kind he appears.

They begin to argue over who will stay with him and

who will report to the Queen of the Night. Eventually, all

Three Ladies leave, still talking about the unconscious

and handsome prince.

CHAPTER TWO

Soon, Tamino awakens and isn’t sure if he is alive,

dead, or just dreaming. The monster lies dead near

him. After pinching himself to prove he really is alive, he

wonders how he survived such a terrible experience.

The Story of an Opera

Gazing at the horrible creature, Tamino is surprised by

music coming from the forest. He quickly hides behind

a tree and a man – dressed as a bird – comes into the

clearing.

The man is singing about catching birds and maybe

even catching a wife! Tamino cautiously approaches

this strange looking person and asks who he is. The

strange man tells Tamino that his name is Papageno.

He catches birds for the Queen of the Night in

exchange for food and drink.

Tamino thinks it was Papageno who killed the monster

and thanks him for saving his life. Papageno does not

tell the truth, but instead makes up a story describing

how he killed the monster with his bare hands. Before

he brags anymore, the Queen of the Night’s Three

Ladies appear.

They relieve Papageno of his catch of birds. In return,

Papageno receives only water and a rock instead of

wine and food! The magical ladies place a lock on his

mouth to punish him for lying about killing the monster.

CHAPTER THREE

Turning to Tamino, the Three Ladies tell him that their

Queen wishes to ask a favor. The Queen would like

Tamino to rescue her daughter, Princess Pamina. They

hand Tamino a picture of the princess. Looking at her

picture, Tamino falls in love. She is so beautiful!

Suddenly, the Queen of the Night appears. In case the

picture did not convince Tamino, the Queen tells her

own sad tale. Her daughter was stolen from her by the

evil Sarastro. Only a noble and true prince like Tamino

can save Pamina.


Tamino agrees to bring Pamina back to her mother.

The Three Ladies present him with a magic flute to

protect him from harm while on this journey.

Meanwhile, Papageno returns with the lock still on

his mouth. All he can do is hum. After the Three

Ladies tell him he was wrong for lying about the

monster, they remove the lock. They order him to

help Tamino search for Pamina, and he halfheartedly

agrees. They give him magic bells for protection.

Tamino gives Papageno the picture of Pamina, and

they begin to search for her.

CHAPTER FOUR

Pamina sits alone in her cell. Papageno appears

and frees Pamina from her bonds. He compares the

picture of Pamina to the woman beside him. They

are one and the same! He tells Pamina that there is a

prince who loves her very much.

Pamina is surprised to hear about this prince and

wonders if Papageno is trying to trick her. Papageno

pleads with her to believe him and she can tell he is

sincere.

Then Papageno becomes sad: Tamino and Pamina

each have someone to love; poor Papageno has no

one. Pamina tells him to have patience as he, too,

will find someone to love.

“Never fear!

The Three ladies are here!!”

“Whew! These are some

monster fumes!”

CHAPTER FIVE

Tamino is searching for Pamina in Sarastro’s realm.

He does not know if she is alive or dead, and he

wonders if Papageno has found her. He plays his

magic flute to let Papageno know where he is. To

his surprise, birds, bears, and lions come out from

the forest and begin to dance. Soon, Papageno and

Pamina appear.

Tamino embraces Pamina. Pamina explains that

Sarastro is not evil and that he took her away

because it is really the Queen of the Night who is

evil. The Queen of the Night is trying to destroy truth

and goodness in Sarastro’s realm.

Sarastro joins them and explains that they will need

to work together to take away the Queen’s power.

Pamina suggests that she visit her mother alone.

Maybe she can help the Queen see that what she is

doing is wrong.

CHAPTER SIX

Sarastro leads Tamino and Papageno away.

Meanwhile, Pamina leaves the safety of Sarastro’s

realm and prepares to confront her mother.

You’d be in a bad mood too

if you had to live in

this pile of dirty laundry!!

5


6

These words are scrambled for real,.

Suddenly the Queen appears in a flash of light! She

insists that Sarastro is the one trying to destroy

wisdom, reason, and nature. The Queen places a

dagger into Pamina’s hand and demands that Pamina

kill Sarastro. Pamina runs away feeling very confused

and anxious.

CHAPTER SEVEN

Pamina rushes into the arms of Sarastro. She tries to

explain what the Queen, her mother, has asked her

to do. Sarastro quietly interrupts them. He reminds

Pamina that in his realm there is no room for hatred or

anger. The search for a better world is the goal. While

the Queen cannot be harmed, she must not be allowed

to hurt Pamina or others. Sarastro explains that she and

Tamino must overcome fear and face death to protect

the realm from the Queen’s evil plans.

CHAPTER EIGHT

Poor Papageno! Tamino has found his Pamina, and

Sarastro has helped everyone but Papageno. Papageno

wishes to have a wife and some children; that is all he

asks of this life.

As Papageno walks through the forest, he sees an

old lady who knows his name! She tells him that even

though she looks old, she is only 18. She then surprises

him by saying she is his bride. Papageno is confused.

How can this old woman say she is only 18 and be his

wife?

Magically, the old lady changes into a young woman!

With twinkling eyes and a merry smile, she announces

that her name is Papagena. Papageno is speechless –

here is a Papagena just for him! They spend their first

day together thinking about their future and all of the

little children they will love one day.

CHAPTER NINE

Sarastro leads Tamino and Pamina into a great hall. He

explains that there is one thing the Queen cannot live

with: the light that shines from a fearless mind.

Pamina is confused. What is meant by such an idea?

Sarastro tells Pamina and Tamino that they will be

tested in a series of trials. If they show fear, they will be

destroyed and the Queen of the Night will destroy truth

and goodness.

A T Q U E E N Z Y I R X S L M

I P B C U O O D H O A S I I A

A A T A M I N O W J X E N M G

Z M G X Z U D Y A J I N G S I

Z I T R L A I Q H C P L S C C

S N J U T U Y H P R A I P H B

A A C F R M F R A A P G I I E

R Z E J B A K E P P A H E K L

A R B B R G L N A A G T L A L

S R C U A I G A G L E E F N S

T S E P V C I I E L N N E E C

R U A N O F I S N E A M H D X

O E N B G L R S O G V E Q E W

H Y I H B U T A M O L N W R M

I Y G K Z T N N A R U T E D Y

B X H X V E T C O Y T T W X G

B U T I D Y W E C K U L M V D

Magic Flute Magic Bells Singspiel Enlightenment Renaissance Tamino

Pamina Papageno Papagena Sarastro Queen Night

Allegory Schikaneder Bravo


You have

conquered the trial

of fire!!

Pamina and Tamino promise to undergo the trials

together. They have each other for protection and

security. And, they also have the magic flute to help

them. Together, Pamina and Tamino conquer the trial of

fire and the trial of water.

CHAPTER TEN

Pamina and Tamino return to the great hall where they

meet Papageno and Papagena. Sarastro congratulates

them on their courage and patience as the rising sun

glows upon the group. Suddenly, the Queen of the

Night and the Three Ladies appear. They want to take

Pamina away. But, as the light of the sun shines on

them, the four evil women shrink in its brightness and

disappear. Wisdom has prevailed!

–THE END

Nocturnal Jou

May 6, 2012

Got Wisdom?

CLASSIFIED ADS

Temple of Wisdom seeking new members.

Must possess honesty, goodness, and

bravery. Apply in person.

Ask for Sarastro.

7


8

ahhhh...good to know! :)

Opera is a complex art form with many different parts.

Seeing a live performance can be exciting and fun,

especially if you understand how all of the different parts

fit together.

Opera composers of the 18 th and 19 th centuries followed

some guidelines for organizing an opera story. These

guidelines helped them reveal the plot, showcase singers’

vocal talents, and provide musical variety for the audience.

So, here are the basics....

ARIA: One person sings alone.

The Magic Flute has several examples...

• Papageno: Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja (I am a bird

catcher) and Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen (A girlfriend

or wife)

• Tamino: Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön (The

portrait is enchantingly beautiful)

• Pamina: Ach, ich fühl’s (Oh, I feel)

• The Queen of the Night: O zittre nicht (Tremble not)

and Der Hölle Rache (Evil revenge)

•Sarastro: O Isis und Osiris (Isis and Osiris) and In

diesen heil’gen Hallen (In these holy halls)

DUET: Two people sing at the same

time or take turns singing to one

another.

The Magic Flute has a number of duets...

• Pamina & Papageno: Bei Männern (Among men)

• Papageno & Papagena: Pa-pa-pa

TRIO: Three people sing at the same

time or take turns.

The Magic Flute contains a number of trios. One of

them opens the opera with the Three Ladies killing

the monster.

• Three Ladies: Stirb, Ungeheu’r (Die, monster)

Sweeping the Land

An opera composer uses musical forms such as the aria,

duet, trio, ensemble, and chorus to show characters’

feelings or ideas. Different forms may also be used to

slow or stop the action to highlight an important part of

the plot. Arias, duets, trios, or ensembles are performed

by named characters (such as Tamino, Papageno, and

Pamina). Choruses are performed by unnamed groups

(like the guards). Arias, duets, trios, and ensembles are

often separated by recitative. During the recitative, a

character may speak his thoughts aloud or have a sung

conversation with other characters.

ENSEMBLE: A group of more than three

people are singing. Ensembles often

occur at the end of an act to help build

dramatic intensity before ending the

story.

The Magic Flute contains a number of ensembles.

• Tamino, Papageno, Three Ladies: Hm! Hm! Hm! Hm!

• Papageno, Tamino, Three Ladies, Chorus: Wie?

Wie? Wie? (How? How? How?)

CHORUS: A large group of people

(characters without names) singing the

same words at the same time.

RECITATIVE (reh-sih-tah-TEEV):

Short musical statements that move

the action forward. They are sung

by one or more characters and they

have quiet accompaniment to support

conversational-type of singing.

Recitatives introduce or connect larger

musical forms (arias, duets, trios, and

ensembles).

The Magic Flute contains very little recitative. For

most of the opera, the action between musical

numbers is delivered through speech. An example

occurs when Tamino meets Papageno (and

Papageno gets in trouble bragging about slaying the

monster).

• Tamino & Papageno He da! (Hey there!)


Because opera is a very old art form, many of the

operas performed today were created by composers

who lived long ago. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the

composer of The Magic Flute, lived from 1756 until

1791. But what if we could talk to him today? In this

imaginary interview, Backstage Pass! correspondent,

Joseph Grün, asks Mozart some questions about his

life and work.

Joseph Grün: Can you tell us about your childhood?

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: I was born in

Salzburg, Austria, on January 27, 1756. My mother

and father had seven children. Sadly, only my sister

and I survived. My father was a gifted composer and

violinist. He also wrote a very popular book on how to

play the violin.

JG: How did you learn to compose music?

WAM: Luckily, I was raised in a musical family. My

musical gifts appeared when I was very young. At

an early age I learned to play the piano, harpsichord,

and violin. My sister also played the piano. When I

was young my father helped me write the notes on

the page for my compositions. While it is difficult to

remember what I did when I was five or six years old, I

do know that my father took my sister and me on trips

so we could perform for nobility. Though these trips

were exhausting, they helped me learn about different

musical styles.

JG: Can you tell us more about how your travels

helped you as a composer?

WAM: I have read that some people think I am a

“genius.” I don’t know if I am, but I do know that music

has always come easily for me. Working with my father

and listening to my sister play the piano helped my

music. Traveling during my childhood allowed me to

perform for people and listen to the music of many

different composers in many different countries. I think

all of this helped my musical abilities.

JG: Can you describe your compositional style?

WAM: I will try, but remember that a composer’s

style changes within his or her lifetime. And, also

remember, that I began composing at a VERY young

age. To answer this question, I’ll use opera, which I

worked with for most of my life.

I composed my first opera, Bastien and Bastienne,

when I was 12. My last opera, The Magic Flute, was

composed when I was 35. They are similar in that both

contain arias and duets. So what is different?

An Interview with the Composer

First, my interest in opera changed over time. I don’t

know that I could have written The Magic Flute when

I was 12. The themes within the opera, (the search for

wisdom and truth) are more serious than the themes

of Bastien and Bastienne (childhood jealousy and

reconciliation).

Second, as I grew older, I better understood the voice,

text, and the orchestra. Listen to the overtures of

Bastien and Bastienne and The Magic Flute and you’ll

hear differences in the way I wrote for the orchestra.

Third, I learned more about the differing musical styles

throughout Europe, as well as what my audience

enjoyed. Unlike other composers like Franz Joseph

Haydn, I did not receive regular pay from a patron.

I had to sell my works. Sometimes wealthy people

would pay me to write music, but I made money most

often by requiring audience members to pay to see my

operas. As a composer, I had to write operas about

ideas my audience wanted to see, not just my own

ideas.

JG: Do you mean that you will write whatever you think

an audience will like, even if it isn’t best for the story?

WAM: Not quite. You have brought up an interesting

problem. What the audience wants is important, but a

composer must stay true to his or her own creativity.

Perhaps composers must balance new musical ideas

with familiar ones.

For example, The Magic Flute contains two

contrasting musical ideas. Let’s describe them as the

sublime and the ridiculous. To be sublime means to

be great; to be ridiculous means to be stupid or funny.

The idea of the sublime is seen in the text and music

of Tamino, Pamina, and Sarastro. The ridiculous is

demonstrated by the music of Papageno, the Three

Ladies, and even the Queen of the Night.

The movement between these two ideas gives

the opera excitement, balance, and interesting

composition. The decision to use these two ideas

makes a good story for the stage. I also had to

consider the capabilities of my singers, and what my

audience would like to see in this opera.

JG: Is there anything else you’d like to add about your

compositional style?

WAM: Well, I also use the standard musical forms

in my operas: arias, duets, trios, ensembles, and

choruses. These help me create the structure for an

opera.

9


10

For example, a “typical” Mozart opera begins with the

orchestra playing the overture, which is the instrumental

introduction to the opera. The curtain rises to reveal

a singer or two. Each solo singer is introduced with

an aria. Between arias I write choruses, duets, trios,

ensembles and recitatives. Recitatives are sung

conversations between characters. While solos, duets,

trios and ensembles freeze the action and highlight

important plot details, recitatives quicken the pace and

move the story along.

JG: Your use of melody in The Magic Flute is very

interesting. In Papageno’s first aria, (Der Volgerfänger

bin ich ja or in English: I am a bird catcher) the melody

moves in a stepwise fashion. His second aria (Ein

Mädchen oder Weibchen or in English: A girlfriend

or wife) is like this, too. It seems the text is most

important, even though the tunes are wonderful. In

other compositions, like the aria Tamino sings to

Pamina’s picture (Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön or

in English: The portrait is enchantingly beautiful), the

melody jumps around a bit more. How do you make

these choices?

WAM: This is an easy answer! In the case of The

Magic Flute, these choices partly depend on who is

singing the role. The first Papageno was my friend,

Emanuel Schikaneder. Schikaneder was an experienced

stage actor, but he did not have a singing voice trained

for opera. So, I needed to compose music for him that

he could sing. Our first Tamino, Benedikt Schack, was a

stronger singer who could sing more difficult music.

JG: Thank you very much for your time, Maestro

Mozart. I have learned a lot from you.

WAM: My pleasure.

EXTREME SEARCHING OF WORDS, DUDE.

A T P L O T H Z Y I R X T L O

T E N O R O O R C H E S T R A

A S C O E I Y R D U E T O M F

L U A X Z U D Y A H I E G A L

I Y C R L A S Q T C L M O D Q

B B H U I S Y N T B C O G U T

R O O F A A E L M A Y Z T X E

E Z R B U E K E R P A A H N K

T R U B T G S S W K V R O Z H

T T S H I N G Y Q G L T F L M

O R G P E R I U M W I Q E I C

W I A N Q A I Q D R L Q H L X

E O A B G X R J A R V G Q A W

G E R M A N Y B M J L R W A M

I Y K K Z Y N A A Q U X E D Y

B X S O P R A N O U T T W X G

B U D I D Y W M E Z Z O M V D

Germany Eighteenth Mozart Soprano Mezzo Tenor Baritone Bass

Libretto Orchestra Aria Duet Ensemble Trio Chorus Plot


Notice the characters do

not have to be human

Librettos (the book or script of an opera) often transform

existing stories, plays, or poems into words that can be

sung on the opera stage. Think of the story of a bestselling

book that is turned into a blockbuster movie. This

transformation can be subtle (changing a word or two) or

obvious (rewriting or excluding entire parts of the story).

When constructing a libretto, the librettist tries to describe

both the characters and the dramatic situation.

Let’s use the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk to explain

how to transform a story into a libretto. First, a librettist

identifies the characters that will make the plot come to life.

In Jack and the Beanstalk, we find:

o Jack

o Jack’s mother

o The cow Jack sells at market

o The stranger who sells Jack the magic beans

o The giant

o The giant’s wife

o The goose that lays the golden egg

o The magic harp

Which characters are central to the plot?

o Jack

o Jack’s mother

o The giant

o The giant’s wife

The other characters are important too. But at this point,

Jack, his mother, the giant, and his wife are essential to

moving the plot forward.

Next, the librettist identifies the essential elements of the

plot. What elements are needed to tell the story? If an

element is left out, would the story still make sense?

o Jack and his mother are poor

o Jack goes to the market and trades the cow

for magic beans

o Jack climbs up the beanstalk three times and

takes objects belonging to the giant and his

wife

o The giant’s wife helps Jack two times

o The last time that Jack tries to escape, the

giant follows him down the beanstalk and falls

to the ground

Now the librettist and composer choose which musical

forms (aria, duet, trio, ensembles, chorus, or recitatives)

help tell the story. A librettist might divide the plot into

scenes and identify musical forms within each scene.

Notice how general the ideas

are at this point.

ACT ONE – Scene one

Mother (Aria): sing about being poor

Mother and Jack (Recitative): talk about what to do

Mother and Jack (Duet): decide to sell the cow at

market

ACT ONE – Scene two

Jack (Aria): walks the cow to market

Stranger (Aria): describes the magic power of the

beans

Stranger and Jack (Recitative): talk about trading

the beans and the cow

Stranger and Jack (Duet): agree to trade the beans

for the cow

ACT TWO – Scene one

Jack (Aria): climbs the beanstalk and visits the

giant’s castle for the first time

Giant (Aria): Fee-fi-fo-fum – the giant confronts Jack

Jack and giant’s wife (Recitative): Jack takes the

gold purse and the giant’s wife helps him escape

ACT TWO – Scene two

Jack and Giant (Duet): confrontation over stealing

the coin purse, goose, and harp

Jack and Giant (Recitative): Giant chases Jack

down the beanstalk

Giant (Aria): “Death scene” after he falls off the

beanstalk

Jack and Mother (Duet): The “moral” of the story

Next, the librettist rewrites the text from the original story

so it fits the various music forms. The librettist sends the

libretto to the composer who then sets the words to music.

Often, the composer will send sections of the libretto back

to the librettist for changes. After a time, the librettist and

composer work out details and changes and the libretto is

turned into an opera! 11


12

Writing Your Own Review of an Opera Performance

A music reviewer, also called a music critic, writes for

a newspaper, magazine, website, blog, or other media

outlets. The reviewer’s job is to provide readers with a

description of a performance and opinions about it.

Here’s an example of a review

After attending the opening night

performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at Opera

Theater of Timbuktu, I am reminded of what a

lovely composition it is. In this performance of

The Magic Flute, the singing was uniformly strong.

Each principal role was well cast considering the

vocal demands of the opera. Of special note was

the performance of Ross Jones as Papageno.

This reviewer had the sense that Papageno was

an “everyday” individual with a heart of gold. And,

Mr. Jones’ full and rich baritone made a marvelous

accompaniment for his characterization. The

orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Abbott,

nimbly accompanied the singers when necessary

and provided heft when required. The stage

direction, sets, and lighting were visually appealing

and never a distraction. The costume designs of

Martha Despina warrant special mention. The colors

of the costumes were vivid and the frequent costume

changes made for an exciting spectacle. The

wonderful balance achieved on this evening allowed

Mozart’s masterpiece to shimmer.

A good review does not judge the performance as only

“good” or “bad.” Instead, it helps readers understand

what to expect from a performance they may wish to

see. Would you like to be a critic? Here are four simple

guidelines to help you write your review:

1. Begin your review with information about the

performing arts company and the name of the

opera.

2. Describe what you heard and what you saw

in terms of the singing, the orchestra, stage

direction, lighting, costumes, and sets.

3. Point out strong elements of the performance

and also point out weaknesses.

4. Conclude with a general statement

summarizing the performance.

Music reviewers attend many different types of

performances each and every week… and for free! If

you love classical music and opera, this could be the

job for you!

“The Soprano stole the show!!

The soprano always steals

the show!”

“No. Way. It was

the Papageno character.

That baritone has mad skills!”


The first opera, titled Dafne, was created by Jacopo

Peri and performed in 1598. During the next 300

years, Italian opera developed into two types: comic

and serious. Comic opera, also called opera buffa

(OH-pear-ah BOO-fah), generally has a storyline that

is funny, lighthearted, or even silly. Serious opera, or

opera seria (OH-pear-ah SEH-ree-ah), contain tragic

plots or serious themes.

Although Italy was the birthplace of opera, other

countries also developed their own style of opera.

The first opera performed in Germany was a German

version of Dafne that premiered in 1627. German

composers of that time did not develop a uniquely

German form of opera. Instead they composed

operas in Italian.

German royalty preferred Italian opera. Since

composers were not wealthy, they depended on rich

people, like the royals, to pay them to create music.

Composers did not write German opera because

there were not many people willing to pay for one.

Mozart also composed operas in Italian that were

very popular (The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni,

and Così fan tutte). He explored a new form of

German opera called singspiel (ZING-shpeel), which

Dear Impresario,

What is the Difference?

means “sung play.” One unique characteristic of the

singspiel is the inclusion of spoken text within the

opera. This means you will hear spoken dialogue,

singing, and orchestral music.

Mozart took the popular form of German

entertainment, the singspiel, and raised it to high art.

Most singspiel used simple music and spoken text to

tell a story. The plot lines were often simple as well.

In both The Abduction from the Seraglio and The

Magic Flute, Mozart made the plot more detailed by

including more interesting action for the characters.

In The Magic Flute, characters like Papageno are

contrasted with Sarastro. Papageno is a typical

singspiel character. There is nothing complicated

about his character, and he is able to easily explain

what he wants. Sarastro is more like an opera seria

character. He thinks about more complicated ideas

like truth and goodness.

The music that Mozart composed for The Magic

Flute was more interesting than the music in a typical

singspiel, too. He helped improve German opera

with his more sophisticated use of the orchestra and

the singer. He prepared the way for generations of

great German composers to come.

ASK THE IMPRESARIO

Help! I am going to the opera with my grandmother. I’ve never been to an opera before and I am worried

that I will not know how to act in the theater. I want to do the right thing when I attend the opera.

Helpless in Seattle

Dear Helpless:

What a wonderful opportunity for you and your grandmother! There is no question that knowing how to

act at an opera can be a challenge. Often, the music and language are unfamiliar and there seem to be

unwritten rules about when to clap. So, I have a few bits of advice:

1. First, applaud when the conductor comes out to begin the opera and also at the beginning of every act.

If you find an aria, duet, or trio beautiful or well performed, clap (and even shout “Bravo” if you are so

moved) at its finish. If you are not sure if you should clap, just watch the other audience members and

you will know what to do. After watching a few operas, you will get the hang of it.

2. Make sure to notice everything on stage: the singing, music, staging, costumes, and lighting. If your

mind wanders, focus on something different for a while. If you were focusing on the singing, maybe

focus on the staging or set instead. Most operas have lots of changes; so it’s okay if you get distracted.

Just remember to stay quiet so others can enjoy the performance.

13


HIGH

14

In many ways, The Magic Flute is a simple story of

two men who show us the importance of honesty

and the search for understanding. Tamino and

Papageno are not only characters in an opera, but

also show us different ways people should live.

The Magic Flute also includes characters that show

the goodness in both Tamino and Papageno. Pamina

makes goodness and honesty stronger in Tamino.

The Queen of the Night is the total opposite of

Tamino, Papageno, Pamina, and Sarastro.

The message of goodness and honesty is seen

throughout The Magic Flute. Other messages in The

Magic Flute are not so clear. Audience members

must draw conclusions from the drama. So, The

Magic Flute may be understood as an allegory.

Allegory is a method authors use to include different

meanings within a story and that readers use when

interacting with the story (be it a book, poem,

opera, painting, or sculpture). There are two types

of allegories: literary and symbolic. The Magic Flute

uses both types to deliver its deeper message.

Dear Impresario,

An Operatic Allegory

Literary allegory describes events or ideas using

objects, persons, or actions. In The Magic Flute, for

example, ideas of truth, nature, and wisdom can be

found in the trials undertaken by Tamino and Pamina.

Symbolic allegory uses an individual or idea to

explain a deeper meaning, but still can stand alone

as a character. In The Magic Flute, Sarastro is a

symbolic allegory. Sarastro is the ruler of his realm

and his actions show reason, nature, and wisdom.

But, he is still a compassionate man who cares for all

people.

Tamino loves Pamina and Papageno loves

Papagena. All of them are good people trying hard to

live a life of honesty and goodness. These characters

and the marvelous music Mozart composed make

for an entertaining night at the theater. However,

there are deeper meanings within The Magic Flute

including the importance of reason, nature, and

wisdom in living a good life. These lessons are

as relevant to audiences today as they were for

audiences over 200 years ago.

I am 12 years old and really love opera. I love to sing and act. How do I become an opera singer?

Thanks!

An Opera Hopeful

Dear Hopeful:

Opera singers are both born and created. In order to become an opera singer you need to know your voice classification.

There are six basic voice types, three for women and three for men. The women’s voice types from highest to lowest are

soprano, mezzo-soprano, and contralto. The men’s voice types from highest to lowest are tenor, baritone, and bass. It

takes a lot of hard work to become an opera singer. Not only do you need to have a pleasing voice, but it must be well

trained and it must project because there are no microphones in opera. You must also learn to act, move comfortably on

stage (sometimes while wearing heavy costumes), and sing in several languages. At your age, the most important thing to

do is continue to sing and act. If possible, join a children’s chorus (or better yet, a children’s chorus that sings with your

local opera company). As you grow older and are still interested in becoming an opera singer, I suggest attending summer

music camps and studying music in college. Good luck! Maybe I will see you on stage soon.

Soprano

ASK THE IMPRESARIO

contralto

mezzo-soprano

tenor

baritone

bass

LOW


The Magic Flute was written during a period of history

known as the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment

was a cultural movement which changed religious,

scientific, and artistic thinking in 18 th century society.

Most scholars agree that the Enlightenment was born

during the Renaissance. The Renaissance (the 14 th

through 17 th century) was a time of great growth in art

and science. The discoveries made during this time

were of two types. First, people began to appreciate

the creativity of artists. People no longer believed that

all art came with help from God. Second, the same

thing happened with scientific discoveries. The work

of scientists like Galileo and Copernicus questioned

ideas about the world that people had believed for

many years.

The Enlightenment was an extension of the

Renaissance. The power of reason gave humans the

ability to make choices using information found in

the natural world. The Enlightenment showed that

people could make the world a better place. Great

thinkers, like Isaac Newton, believed the individual

was important in the world.

As you can imagine, this idea of individual importance

shocked monarchies in Western Europe. Before this

time, only royalty (chosen by God) had the power to

make laws and create a society for everyone else.

During the Enlightenment, the individual’s place in

society, the role of a monarch, and the role of the

Church changed.

How does the Enlightenment movement influence

the story of The Magic Flute? In The Magic Flute,

Sarastro’s realm contains three temples: nature,

reason, and wisdom. These are the three main parts

of Enlightenment thinking. During that time common

people did not think a prince like Tamino would prize

wisdom, reason, and nature. They thought someone

born into royalty would not care about these things.

Tamino (and Pamina’s) success in each of the trials

convinces Sarastro: even princes are human and use

reason, nature, and wisdom to see goodness in each

person.

The Magic Flute shows the tension between power

(the monarchy), equality, and Enlightenment thinking.

Even though Sarastro is the leader of a group of men,

he values reason, nature, and wisdom. In the opera,

there are obvious questions about who is equal and

how they show it. For example, is Papageno equal to

Tamino? Tamino seeks reason, nature, or wisdom, but

Papageno would rather have a wife, good food, and

some wine.

The values of the Enlightenment are still important

today. The art, music, literature, and scientific

discoveries help us understand the individual and his

or her place in the world.

15


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3

2

4 5 6

7 8

10 11 12

15 16

13 14

Across

2. A wise man

5. Mozart played this instrument as a child

8. A serious or tragic opera

10. The highest female vocal range

11. A Prince

13. A friend and colleague of Mozart

15. The highest male vocal range

16. The wife of a bird catcher

18. The group that accompanies opera singers

19. Sung play

20. The book or script of an opera

20

18

1

19

17

9

crosswordiggety.

Down

1. Another word for proper behavior

3. A person who writes music

4. A bird catcher

5. A Princess

6. A funny or lighthearted opera

7. When more than tree people sing at the same

time

9. Composer of The Magic Magic Magic Flute Flute

12. A musical form in which one person sings

14. A musical form in which two people sing

together or separately

17. _____ of the Night

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