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The Magic Flute (The Black Dog Opera Library) Hardcover – January 9, 1996


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Hardcover, January 9, 1996
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Product Details

  • Series: The Black Dog Opera Library
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers (January 9, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1884822827
  • ISBN-13: 978-1884822827
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,198,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Mozart's last opera, the simultaneously comic and serious fairy tale The Magic Flute (Die Zauberfloete), is as problematic as anything in the medium. Some deplore it for its perceived sexism and racism; some deplore it for its arguably goofy plot. "Depending on your perspective," writes David Foil in his essay in this book, it "is either the silliest opera ever written or a work of profound insight that happens to be dressed in the trappings of a cartoon." That it is Mozart's sublime music that ennobles something meant to be merely a short-lived popular entertainment is not in question.

This volume, issued by Black Dog Opera Library, puts together Foil's essay, lots of pictures, a complete libretto (with running commentary) in English and German, and a classic recording on two compact discs in one comfortably priced hardcover package. It is a fine introduction to what remains a great opera, goofy plot or no. (And Bellini's plots aren't even goofier?) It is worth buying just for the now out-of-print EMI/Angel 1972 (remastered in 1987) recording, contained on two very long-playing CDs, found inside the front and back covers of the book. The dialogue portions work better in this version than in most recordings. Anneliese Rothenberger is an appealing Pamina, and Walter Berry is a delightful Papageno. Edda Moser nails the difficult music of the Queen of Night, while Kurt Moll is our day's definitive Sarastro. Wolfgang Sawallisch, brisk and never lugubrious, conducts his soloists and the Bavarian State Opera Chorus and Orchestra with total certainty.

From Publishers Weekly

Adapting any work to sequential art is intimidating, but adapting opera takes a special kind of confidence. Adapting comic opera-particularly one by Mozart-takes a confidence that borders on hubris. Fortunately, Russell, who's adapted everything from Neil Gaiman's short stories to The Ring of the Niebelung, has the talent to back up his ambition. Sure and confident, Russell's art switches from tense action sequences to slapstick without missing a beat. His sense of physical characterization is also impressive, helping readers keep track of Mozart's often confusing cast of characters. Even traditionally less-recognized aspects of comics presentation, like color and lettering, here serve the story brilliantly. And as impressive as Russell's art is, his writing is possibly even more noteworthy. Much of this graphic novel is told without narration or dialogue (presumably to simulate the longer musical passages Mozart included in the opera), and Russell's selection of sequential images keeps the story moving along without ever losing readers. When he does use dialogue, often the hardest part of a graphic novel to pull off properly, he hits just the right tones: brash and aspiring for young Prince Tamino, earthy and hearty for cynical bird-catcher Papageno, haughty and cryptic for the mysterious Queen of Night. NBM's reprint of Russell's classic adaptation superbly displays the artist's skill at both writing and illustrating.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Nowhere else will you find such a deal.
B.C.M.
The Opera Journeys Mini Guide Series is a wonderful contribution to opera education and opera appreciation.
Heinz Dinter
This would be a wonderful book for anyone interested in learning about opera, young or old.
Monika

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Jan A. Heirtzler on March 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just wanted to warn people thinking of getting this book -- make sure you're getting the one you want! The editorial review for the children's version of "The Magic Flute" refers in part to a Black Dog Opera version -- *that's* the one with the libretto and two CDs. The children's version (retold by Anne Gatti) has only one CD of selections from the opera, and no libretto, just a retelling of the story. I bought the children's version by mistake, based on the editorial review and the customer reviews (some of which also claim that 2 CDs are included), but it turns out these do not refer at all to the children's version.
That said, if you're just looking for something for your kids, definitely go for the children's version (ASIN 0811810038). The illustrations are cute, and the text is written to follow along with the CD selections... fine for the age range they indicate. If, however, you want the full libretto with translations, and the full opera on CD, make sure you get the "Black Dog" version which is referenced as "hardcover edition" on the kid's version page. (Hope that makes sense!)
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Kendal B. Hunter on November 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is sheer genius! Put the opera in CD form, and attach a nice picture book for children, and you have a perfect classic. I hope more books like this are on the way. This is a perfect introduction to a masterwork of opera.
I confess that "The Magic Flute" is my favorite opera. It retells the ancient Freemason legends in opera and dramatic form, so you know that the story is rather primeval and sacred. I am glad, therefore, to see that someone has transposed the story for children. The book and the legend hold up well against "The Odyssey," Shakespeare, and Harry Potter, and the story has an incredible soundtrack to boot.
After all, we are really focused on the mysterious music and the incredible love story of Tamino and Pamina, and the trials that keep these two apart. The more I read and ponder the story, and ultimately its esoteric message, the more I love this story.
The CD is perfect and without hiss or crackle. The book is geared for a 3-7 year old, and doesn't do the story justice. However, it is a great introduction to this opera.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Garret on December 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflute in German) was Mozart's final opera. It was his favorite and undoubtedly his greatest achievement. When he was in his deathbed, it was said that Mozart requested to hear the score to the Magic Flute one last time. Mozart was a Freemason, although he had been raised as a Catholic and enjoyed sponsorship by the Archbishop of Salzburg for some time. His conversion; into what was a religious and philosophical organization that praised the Englightenment and mystic Egyptian/Zoroastrian beliefs, effected and influenced his musical composition. He had already written music for a Masonic Funeral and Freemasonry deeply influenced the Requiem in D Minor.
This recording is out of print in cd form and was probably an LP in the 70's. In 1972, Walter Sawallisch, the Bavarian State Orchestra and the talents of Peter Schreir (Tamino), Annelise Rothenberger (Pamina), Walter Berry (Papageno), Kurt Moll (Sarastro) and Edda Moser (The Queen of the Night) put together what is the definitive, the greatest, the most perfect, the one and only Magic Flute. If you've heard the rest, now try the best. Contrary to the negative comments of the other reviewers, the Black Dog Opera Library has done an excellent job of making this opera accessible, a book full of great illustrations and liner notes on the singers, Mozart and his era. Yes, the Magic Flute has been unjustly considered and theatrically treated as a children's opera, a fairy tale with no real substance, a great work sugar coated into something like Broadway musical or cartoon.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By stuart@totcon.com on January 19, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I got The Magic Flute for Christmas. My teacher is almost finished reading it to the class. We also listen to the CD after she reads the part to it. Some people in my class don't know if they like it a lot or not. Most of them love it. Ruth Stuart, 2nd grade
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Garret on December 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Black Dog Opera Library Series had outdone themselves once again. In this 1972 recording of Mozart's last opera, we are treated to a fine performance by fine singers, a fully illustrated book with liner notes and commentary, as well as information useful in biographies on the composer and his time. Mozart was close to his death bed at the time he composed The Magid Flute. He made an opera that could be enjoyed at many levels. At one level, it is a comic, brilliant fairy tale for children, at another level, it is deeply symbolic and layed with Masonic ideals of universal brotherhood and love. Mozart and his librettist were both Freemasons, a religous "sect" that was under hot water in 18th century Vienna for its pagan origins and its advocation of ideas of the Enlightenment. The story is about Tamino, a prince who is lost in a strange land (originally, a mystic Egypt), who is rescued from a serpent by three mysterious women and promised the hand of the daughter of the Queen of the Night if he saves her from the wizard Sarastro. Together with the help of the comic bird-catcher, Papageno, he sets out on his adventure. But halfway through the opera, he discovers that he has been deceived. The Queen of the Night is the true villain and Sarastro is really a holy man. After many trials, the forces of evil are defeated and the opera ends blissfully with a victory.
Musically and dramatically, it is Mozart's greatest opera. From the striking Overture to the use of dark strings, trumpet and soaring flute passages, the individual arias which express intense emotions to the neverending theme that good triumphs over evil, the Magic Flute stands out as a great opera to begin with for newcomers and a favorite for old time opera fans.
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