It was on this day, September 30, 1791, that The Magic Flute premiered in Vienna at the Theater auf der Wieden. Arguably Mozart’s last complete work, and undisputedly his final, finished masterpiece, the opera was instantly well-received. Though Mozart was quite ill at the time, the success of the opera apparently brightened the famed composer’s spirits and provided a short-lived reprieve from his ultimately fatal illness.
Mozart collaborated with impresario, composer, actor, and singer, Emanuel Schikaneder, to deliver The Magic Flute. The opera was written and performed in Singspiel form and was, accordingly, characterized by song as well as spoken word. A very talented artist in his own right, Schikaneder wrote the lyrics and dialogue and portrayed Papageno as Mozart composed and conducted the music. The two composers identified with early Masonic principles, and the product of their collective effort, The Magic Flute, has often been noted for its latent references to Masonic ideology.
The immediate success of the work was undeniable, though initially unexpected. In fact, the opera rapidly and consistently drew full audiences, and even reached its 100th performance as soon as November of 1792. However, its success has been, by no means, fleeting. Even today, The Magic Flute remains the world’s most frequently performed opera.
Mozart passed shortly after The Magic Flute’s premiere, in December of 1791. Thus, he did not live to see its milestone, 100th performance. However, the abundance of immediate success surrounding the Austrian composer’s last great work has lived on, hundreds of years after its introduction. The Magic Flute survives along with over 500 other works as a true testament to the brilliance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.