As Fathers’ Day approaches on June 17, it is time to celebrate the father figures in one’s life. Although Mozart’s relationship with his father was sometimes strained, both his opera The Magic Flute and his own experience illustrate the devotion of loving fathers.
While Sarastro is not technically Pamina’s father, he acts as a protective, loving father as he weighs Tamino’s merits as her suitor. Tamino must endure the test of silence when faced with temptation, trial by fire, and trial by water. Though Sarastro takes his fatherly affection to an extreme, he is clearly particular who deserves Pamina’s hand. Many works inspired by Mozart’s opera make this relationship explicit, including a Swedish film and novels by Marion Bradley (Night Daughter) and Cameron Dokey (Sunlight and Shadow). This opera also shows fatherly tendencies in the eccentric bird-catcher Papageno who sings of his desire for children in his duet with his love Papagena.
In Mozart’s own life, his father, Leopold, was highly influential. Leopold toured young Mozart and his sister Nannerl throughout Europe to showcase their musical talents. Though their relationship is often depicted at its contentious climaxes, as in Peter Shaffer’s film Amadeus, Leopold’s early support played a significant role is establishing Mozart’s career.
If you’re stumped what to get your dad this Father’s Day, consider purchasing tickets to Chicago Opera Theatre’s production of The Magic Flute coming this September. Although the Lyric Opera of Chicago staged this classic opera last fall, Chicago Opera Theatre’s modern, unconventional style ensures that this Flute will be a unique experience. Meanwhile, check out the Royal Opera House’s spectacular 2003 production available at the Naperville Public Library.