Ed Zubrow wrote:
>However, watching the opera in English (especially with the British
>accents in the spoken parts) came close to reducing this marvelous opera
>to a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.
Think about it: Papageno reminded me of the wandering minstrel, The Queen
of the Night could easily have been a G&S contralto part, Tamino is the
tenor hero, etc. etc. Finally in Act 2 the transcendent music moved it
beyond, but for a while I was really wondering.
I know I've asked this question before on other lists, but what exactly is
the magical quality that elevates great, moving music above the usual fare?
as the saying goes: 'From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a small
The step from the sublime to the ridiculous is particularly short where
The Magic Flute is concerned. Count Zinzendorf's comment--"The music
beautiful, the rest an incredible farce"--sums up the feeling of many
listeners, even some like myself who really love the opera. With its lofty
ideals and popular comedy, the piece has the potential for Shakespearean
greatness, but also for TV-movie bathos. It has to be done completely
sincerely or not at all; the slightest amount of artifice in the production
and the story becomes laughable. I think hearing the piece in a foreign
language gives it an air of dignity, much like a British accent makes TV
drama seem classy to us Yanks. I've never heard the opera in English, but
I suspect it would be very very hard to pull off.