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 premiere took place two days after Mozart completed this work (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, acquires pleasures such as food and wine to gain happiness (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 could no longer 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 rose 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.
Contemporary scholars still debate Mozart’s purpose for composing this opera; they 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 solely 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 the idea of reason, a key element of the Enlightenment, …
…wing to the inferiority and diction of the piece.” The royal court did not believe that this opera was one of Mozart’s most intricate works and frowned upon the Masonic symbolism, which detracted from the opera’s success. However, the reputation of the piece quickly turned around. By October of 1791, 24 performances were given, and by November of 1792, the 100th performance was announced (CPR). According to a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, different composers recreated The Magic Flute and adapted it to different cultures. Today, there exist many modified and translated versions of The Magic Flute (MIT). A true masterpiece, The Magic Flute never fails to enchant an audience. Mozart crafted this opera in hope to garner a profit, and succeeds. Conductors, musicians, and historians never tire of exploring the richness of this well-known piece.