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Subject: Re: "Magic Flute" Defeats Jonathan Miller and Vice Versa
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Date:Tue, 18 Aug 1998 06:53:52 EDT
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One of the more interesting contradictions to come out of Jonathan Miller's
comments, as quoted in Charles Schug's evisceration of Miller's Santa Fe
MAGIC FLUTE, is that disparate plot elements in terms of tone make the work
disjointed and obscure any vision of what Mozart and his librettist might have
intended for the work.  Whatever its faults--and I believe that MAGIC FLUTE
does have them, the general structure and style of the work are very much in
a tradition Miller, of all people, should have recognized from within his
own theatrical culture.

The mixture of high art and folk comedy, of satric comment and sacred matter,
of royalty and the coarsest of commoners is, of course, a typically Shakes-
perean mix.  FLUTE, indeed, is a highly Shakespearian work with THE TEMPEST
looming large behind it at all times.  Mr. Schug quite rightly cites the
Ingmar Bergman film as a signal interpretation of the FLUTE and Bergman
himself has spoken of the link between Prospero and Sarastro, Miranda/Fer-
dinand and Pamina/Tamino, etc.  The Romantics, soon to dominate drama and
operatic composition in Europe, lionized Shakespeare and Schikaneder was
very much in the vanguard in terms of moving from the French domination
of dramatic construction with the classical "unities" of time, place and
action toward the French-denigrated post-Medieval Shakespearean mix of
all creation on a stage which can be anywhere, any time, any style the
author wants it to be at any particular moment.

I am indeed surprised that Miller, whose work has so frequently been right
on the mark and illuminated the operas he stages, should have taken such
a stand with the FLUTE, whose form and intent are really not so mysterious
at all.

Bill Fregosi
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