Mozart, the Magic Flute, and Freemasonry
Mozart’s the Magic Flute is largely a metaphor pertaining to the Freemasonry and the enlightenment… augmented by fornication and flatulence jokes. In other words, it is a typical Opera. Those who aren’t familiar with musical or operas probably don’t know, but now they do, just about every piece of high art is filled with intrigue, enlightenment, lots of sex, and a few fart jokes (after-all, high art is simply an expression of the human condition).
Seriously though (although, I have yet to be any less serious than the crown jewel of theatre the Magic Flute), Mozart not only created the modern opera and arguably modern music, he popularized modern musical techniques like coloratura and arguably helped popularize the dark comedy musical in general as well.
In the case of the Magic Flute, Mozart didn’t write the libretto (the words and story), but he was obviously aware of the theme of Emanuel Schikaneder‘s libretto (and if we are unsure his 1790 collaborative opera Der Stein der Weisen AKA The Philosopher’s Stone gives us all the hints we need).
FACT: The Magic Flute isn’t as focused on fart jokes as it is on fornication… but Morzart’s work does contain references to flatulence and so do many of the greatest operas and musicals. The idea is the pairing of the base and enlightened (the animal and spiritual aspects of man’s nature) to achieve the highest ends, which is the theme of the Magic Flute and arguably Enlightenment and Masonry… and liberalism… and the work of Kant, Mill, Aristotle, Kirkegaard, etc (see an essay on “the greatest happiness”).
Freemason Themes in the Magic Flute
While the story is packed cover-to-cover with themes related to the hero’s journey, liberalism, the enlightenment, and general good vs. evil spirituality, there are a few themes related to Freemasonry specifically:
- In the magic flute, the Queen of the Night represents darkness in general (and arguably the Roman Catholic Church of the time, which was anti-Mason, specifically). Meanwhile, Sarastro, the King of the Sun, represents enlightenment (or the enlightened liberals of the late 1700’s specifically). The story’s hero is in love with the Queen’s daughter who is charged with Killing Sarastro… but [spoiler alert] betrays her mother in favor of her lover [the story’s hero] Tamino (hinting that Mozart was more the Man, and Woman, and Citizen type).
- Masonry assigns meaning to the number 3. The Opera opens with a triad (chord with three notes) and there are 3 child-spirits, 3 ladies, 3 slaves, and 3 priests (whom act as a greek chorus). In the opera one of the two main characters (Papageno) counts to 3 in the main theme played throughout the piece.
- The trials of the initiates act as an initiation into the higher orders of the brotherhood of the light. Mason’s have a number of different rituals and ranks.
The secrets of Mozart’s “Magic Flute” – Joshua Borths.
Enlightenment Themes in the Magic Flute
While there are a few Masonic themes in the opera, the general themes of enlightenment and “the hero’s journey” are arguably more important. Freemasonry, after-all, just one way of understanding the eternal struggle of light and dark, good and evil, in the human condition as it manifests on the earthly plane.
Thus, all the Masonic themes and even non-Masonic themes are really just a metaphor pertaining to the path of enlightenment in terms of both the lower “aesthetic” and higher “intellectual and spiritual”.
As Wikipedia phrases well: “The story itself portrays the education of mankind, progressing from chaos (the serpent) through religious superstition (the Queen and Ladies) to rationalistic enlightenment (Sarastro and Priests), by means of trial (Tamino) and error (Papageno), ultimately to make “the Earth a heavenly kingdom, and mortals like the gods” (“Dann ist die Erd’ ein Himmelreich, und Sterbliche den Göttern gleich“); this couplet is sung in the finales to both acts.”
In the opera Papageno, and his quest and relationship with Papagena, represent the aesthetic journey of man. Papageno begins by just craving “women” (like a Don Juan or Don Giovanni) and ends by confirming his future of marriage and reproduction (the aesthetic ends of a good man).
Likewise, Tamino must overcome the darkness in himself, his passions, to achieve spiritual and intellectual enlightenment (the higher path). Tamino starts the story by facing off against a dark serpent which represents the inner reptilian darkness of man that must be overcome (100% a biblical reference, as again Masonry is a secondary theme to the overarching enlightenment theme which has always drawn from available symbolism in any era).
When the Queen of the Night charges Pamina with killing Sarastro it essentially represents the dark aesthetic traps of life seeking to draw Tamino and Pamina away from the light and away from uniting the female and male higher selves they represent.
After the initiates (Pamina and Tamino) face their trials, they defeat the Queen of the Night, overcoming darkness and entering the brotherhood of the light where “With passion and reason No longer at war… kindness and wisdom Prevail evermore”.
Consider, Kant “crossing” of Hume’s fork is a metaphor for “crossing” passion (the senses) and reason, as is Kirkegaard’s spheres from Either/Or (where he uses Mozart’s Don Giovanni as metaphor), as is just about every theme that touches on morality from Utilitarianism to the general tenements of liberalism.
Call it Masonry, call it enlightenment, call it moral philosophy, call it “being a good person”, these are metaphor to show “initiates” the “path of enlightenment”. Specifically, it is a metaphor for how to temper the higher and lower self and society to achieve both aesthetic and spiritual enlightenment. To “marry” the male and female in a way that brings light over darkness “evermore”…. insert coloratura.
The sun bathed in splendor Has vanquished the night; The dark cries surrender To wisdom and light…
…With passion and reason No longer at war, May kindness and wisdom Prevail evermore!
Masonry and the Magic Flute. The Magic flute is the hero’s journey.
Rise of the Sun King and the Return of the Queen of the Night
Mozart’s Magic Flute premiered on September 1791.
1791, 1791, what was happening with Freemasonry in 1791, “oh that is right” the newly formed America, the French Revolution, and liberalism sweeping across the old and new world… and the Death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on December 5th, 1791. Crazy time to be alive.
Anyway, Mozart’s Magic Flute was fairly well received, but in those times sentiment was shifting away from more radical forms of liberalism and toward right-wing traditional and social conservatism. By June of 1795, an order came down to close all Masonic lodges and other secret societies, and Freemasonry ceased to exist in Mozart’s Austria for more than a century. Likewise, in America the Anti-Masonic Party forced most Masons into the major parties as sentiment became puritanical like it had so many times before and has so many times since.
Mozart, Music and Masonic Symbolism: An Exploration for the Unintiated. Mozart liked to Waltz on people’s toes, he was Genius and in retrospect whimsical… but he also died rather young after writing perhaps the most blatantly anti-establishment bit of theatre outside of Cato, a tragedy.
FACT: Schikaneder and Mozart were Masons as was Ignaz Alberti, the engraver and printer of the first libretto (the engraving is very masonic, see here)… so were nearly all the leaders of the French Revolution, and George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, and… well the list goes on, but after the persecution rampant of the Anti-Mason party by American anti-Masons and the decline of Masonry in Europe due to the European Conservatives (you know, just around the end of Mozart’s time), people typically don’t talk about it that much. As the play eludes, “the children of the Queen of the Night have their knives out for the Brotherhood of the Light”… and like the Magic Flute, it is only sort-of-kind-of-half-funny to be persecuted by people with this and this in their back pocket.
TIP: Illuminati = the Illuminated or “Enlightened”. Likewise, Freemasons = an intellectual group originally centered around building (it takes smarts to build perfectly, plus it is an excuse for intellectuals to meet). It is easy to see why secret groups of intellectuals who aren’t blatantly worshiping the state deity and/or the King-o-the-day can be scary and mistaken for “satanists”, and one can understand why they keep themselves secret (it is self preservation and ritual, not conspiracy per-say)… but when you realize that most of our intellectual forefathers from George Washington, to Thomas Jefferson, to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, to John Locke related to these longstanding philosophical ideas centered around lifting up mankind to his best self (AKA Aristotelian virtue theory), it kind of poo-poos all over the idea that they are, as a whole, “evil serpent worshipers”. Their mission is to defeat the serpent, not to worship it above goodness, empathy, and reason (I mean, just watch the opera, pick up a Tarot deck, check out astrology, read any philosophical text, take a closer look at Bible as metaphor… all good people are generally on the same page). This doesn’t make everyone who acts in the name of enlightenment, liberalism, masonry, or anyone “Illuminated” inherently good or bad. It is just, well you can see how populist nativist Anti-Mason sentiment complicates our ability to say things clearly and not speak in metaphor filled opera in any era. See the Age of Enlightenment and Freemasonry, by W.Bro. Ronald Paul Ng.
FACT: Mozart popularized the coloratura, writing in a “very high” part for his sister-in-law Josepha Weber who played the original Queen of the Night at 32. Both arias of the Queen of the Night, “O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn” (AKA Oh, tremble not, my dear son) and “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen“(AKA the Queen of the Night Aria as shown below AKA Hell’s vengeance boils in my heart) require high F6, rare in opera.
Queen of Night [English Version]. This is one of the more famous parts of the Opera.
The Magic Flute (6/6) (English Subtitles). The last 1/6th of the Opera including “Pa–, pa–, pa–” – the somewhat famous Papageno and Papagena song and the clearly Masonic ending where to be clear kindness, wisdom, enlightenment, reason, and brotherhood defeat the darkness and win the day (oh, how awful and scary, can we persecute this and call it Satanist yet?! My pitchfork is burning a hole in my back pocket with all this rational metaphor talk…).
FACT: Other works that are related to masonic metaphor include Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. That book uses the monster as a metaphor for the French Revolution. It is from this thoughtful angle that we can ask the complex question “How can a thing be at once so powerful, so virtuous and magnificent, yet so vicious and base?”