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The Magic Flute Unveiled: Esoteric Symbolism in Mozart's Masonic Opera Paperback – January 1, 1992
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Top Customer Reviews
Particularly as an "outsider"--Chailley was not a Freemason--the author writes with clarity, insight, and years of familiarity with his musical subject, and clear understanding of his fraternal one. The result is a book that is both readable and informative. With even-handed thoughtfulness, Chailley provides important information for anyone who wants to understand The Magic Flute--an otherwise enigmatic work.
This is an important book. In fact, it is a landmark of music scholarship. There are, of course, other books and articles dealing with this subject, but none supersedes this one, and some should be consigned to the benighted trash pile of conspiracist ravings.
Chailley's work should be in the library of any serious Mozart student.
While Chailley is more a scholar of music than of esoterica, it should find its way into libraries of students of Freemasonry as well. In fact, it might encourage some Masons to take Mozart a bit more seriously than many do.
The book is divided into three parts, the first dealing with the relation between Mozart and Freemasonry in general and the circumstances of the writing of the Magic Flute in particular. The second part details the Masonic beliefs and practices in the Viennese lodges at around 1800, one of which counted Mozart as a member. The third part is a detailed, scene by scene analysis of the entire opera on the basis of the original libretto, both musically as well as theatrically, applying the insights from the first two parts. Since I am a musical illiterate I cannot comment on the musical aspect.
I have a DVD of the opera and it was great fun to compare it with the analysis in the book. From the start there were serious discrepancies. The Magic Flute was not painted gold, Tamino was not an arrowless archer in Japanese dress and the Three Ladies forgot to put on their veils. (Gold is the colour of the Sun, symbol of Male superiority. Tamino without arrows signifies that as an uninitiated he lacks penetrating insights, his Japanese dress indicating he comes from the Orient, where the Sun rises. The veils are a symbol of feminine ignorance, the Ladies' flirtations over an unconscious Tamino representing an inferior kind of love, analogous to Monostatos' lusting after Pamina).
I still remember how flabbergasted I was when I first saw the opera, shocked by what seemed to me its nonsensical story. This book offers an explanation. Whether you accept it or not depends on how convincing the middle part is. Not being a Freemason the author had to reconstruct Masonic beliefs and initiation rites out of independent sources. Nevertheless the book is a stimulating read and I therefore recommend it wholeheartedly.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I very like this book! For lovers of Mozart, his music and - especially - his masonic music, not only The Magic Flute.Published on December 30, 2012 by Michal Blazejewski