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THE GRAMOPHONE AND THE SINGER
(Continued) By HERMAN KLEIN The Supremacy of Mozart-II.
"THE MAGIC FLUTE."
IN an article by the Italian ,niter, Alfredo Casella, recently published in the ChTistian Science ll :fonitm', the following passage occurs: " I t is interesting to see the extent, in the case of Wagner, to which symphonism introduced into the theatre hurt i t [the latter]. Whereas Mozart did just the opposite and introduced the theatre into the symphony, into chamber music, even into oratorio; with the result that the operas of Mozart seem younger than the dramas of W agner. The fusion, dreamt of by the latter, of all the arts (my italics) is a pure Utopia which has already disappeared from the horizon. In the musical thea,tre music alone reigns." This is eminently true; and i t is here that we find the secret of the permanence and the yerennial attraction of an opera like The .ilLagic Flut e, which depends for nine-tenths of i ts charm upon the undying melodies of Mozart. The remaining tenth is quite adequate for the story and characters invented by the egregious Schikaneder, though, to be just, one has come across librettos even more difficult to understand that his.
I believe the pI'esent generation flatters itself on being the first to appreciate Mozart's operatic swan song a,t i ts true value. In a footnote in :Mr. Francis Toye's clever book, " The Well-Tempered Musician" (lately published by :Methuen and Co.), I read that i t was" an amateur performa,nce of l'he Jlfagio Flute at Cambridge (and also one of Handel's S em ele) that enabled us to reali se the potentialities, more or les s lmrecognised at the t ime (sic I), of each of these masterpieces." I can ass ure my youthful friend that so far as the Moza,rt opera is concerned he is quite mistaken. Whatever i ts" potentialities " may precisely signify, there can be no question that the general meaning and the hidden subtleties of t he plot (such as i t is) were as aptly appreeiated in the last century as they are in this; while the music was f~(, r more beautifully sung by the artists of tha,t