Strassburg's Friends



The neglected wife's lover was none other than Emanuel Schikaneder (1751-1812), Mozart's librettist for Die Zauberflöte, and who also first sang Papageno when the opera opened in September 1791.

Schikaneder also wrote and staged a great many cheap slapstick plays-of-the-week, for which he was sufficiently well known that the word "Schikanederei," loosely equivalent to the English expression "all smoke and mirrors," still survives.

Mellingen's fairytale represents most of the plot of Act I of Zauberflöte, and in particular the trio for Pamina, Papageno, and Monostatos, (No. 8c). The precise details of the the guns and flowers weren't specified by Schikaneder's stage instructions, nor does he say if the "bells" should resemble a modern music-box, a modern glockenspiel, or a set of free-hanging bar chimes. There is a widely circulated video version from the Glyndebourne festival that shows it as I described it.

Mellingen, incidentally, takes his name from a smallish town east of Weimar, about which I know nothing about except it is in the right place in my atlas to be the home of an 18th- or 19th-century nobleman of Thüringen. Not to be confused with a more prominent town of the same name in Switzerland.

All the music, a detailed synopsis, and the libretto (this last in German, French, and Italian but, curiously not in English that I have found!) are all on the web.

A synopsis in English.

German-speaking readers are referred to Schikaneder's text.

A group called "The Magic Flute Project" has put MIDI files of the music and PDFs of the score online on their Downloads page. In particular
http://www.fna.muohio.edu/dogstar/magflute/midi/08d_trio.mid includes the
playing of the bells and enchantment of Monostatos and his slaves.

By Siegmund