Die Zauberflöte - Wolfgang A Mozart This edition of Die Zauberflöte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was the first full "book" I read in German, so I have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for this opera. Though I'm sure that there is some sinister Masonic propaganda at work, probably with the end result that we will all work as stone-cutter slaves in the new glorious reign of the 14th Grand Master Dragon of the East Wind of the Masonic Order of Golden Dawn (or whatever), I couldn't help but enjoy the over-riding strangeness of the plot and characters. Papageno is my favorite character of the bunch, flitting somewhere between playful and insane. My favorite aspect of this opera, though, is the bawdiness that is displayed from time to time, belying the false impression that the German-speaking countries of the 18th-Century were stoic and all-too-serious. Mozart, at least, shows a rather bizarre sense of humor in the his portrayal of Papageno.

Rather than getting caught up in the interpretation of Masonic symbols that permeate the work, I like to view it (and listen to it) as if it were simply a fantastical text. In that light, one can consider it one of the earliest surreal fantasies, presaging the bulk of the surrealist movement by over a century. I think of the work of the Symbolist painters of the last half of the 19th-Century as having derived their ouvre from Die Zauberflöte, though I can't decisively prove such a connection existed. Viewing the work as a surreal fantasy allows an unhindered enjoyment of the work, especially if one is simply reading the words divorced from the music (a necessary evil when one is reading the book in a classroom with other students).

And for you movie buffs, read this book, then watch Howl's Moving Castle and tell me if you don't begin to suspect that Mozart and Miyazaki weren't both trying to get at something much more meaningful than either one presented on the surface of their respective works. And if it means that we all have to be stone-cutting slaves to the Masonic Order, I say "Welcome to our new overlords"!