The Magic Flute

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.

Join VBT on our Czech Republic, Germany & Austria vacation where you can enjoy Vienna’s rich musical tradition as well as visit Mozart’s former residence, Mozarthaus.


The Wines of Portugal

With a wine producing heritage that dates back to the 2nd century, well before the modern establishment of the country, Portugal has had generations to perfect the art of winemaking. Through a dedication to the use of only indigenous grapes, the coastal nation has excelled in developing a collection of distinct and unrivalled varietals.

In the heart of Portugal’s Beira Alta, which features ranging altitudes between 650 and 3000 feet above sea level, sits the Dão wine region. Produced at a host of successful vineyards, Dão is primarily noted for balanced reds, great for pairing with food.  However, recently, Dão has managed to produce some very popular white wines as well.

Home to both Vinho Verde andPort,Portugal’s northern portion lays claim to the country’s most celebrated wines. The Minho region of Portugal gives us Vinho Verde, which literally translates as “Green Wine” in reference to a slight tinge of green at the wine’s edges. Vinho Verdes are intended to be enjoyed at a young age, generally within a year of bottling. And complementing their freshness, a slight, secondary fermentation yields a delightfully light sparkle in most.

It would be inappropriate, to say the least, to engage in a discussion of Portuguese wine and not mention its virtual namesake, “Port.” While Portugal is home to many fine wines, it was Port that put really put its vineyards on the map in the 17th century. The delectable potable was made in the Duoro Valley, then shipped west along the Duoro River to the city of Porto (from which it gets its name), where it would finally be exported to the rest of Europe. In fact, Port was so popular internationally that it resulted in the Duoro Valley becoming the very first delimitated wine region in the world, long before any other demarcated region in Europe.

There are many varieties of fortified wines produced globally, and some very popular ones at that. Yet most expert and amateur wine lovers agree that the distinct Ports cultivated in the Duoro Valley have remained unmatched since their conception. Join us on our Walking Portugal’s Douro River Valley vacation and sample all that Dão, Minho, and the Duoro Valley have to offer as we enjoy some of the most unique wines and landscapes in the world.