Monday, October 4, 2010

‘The Magic Flute as poetry’

Wednesday, December 1 is the night when the 92nd Street Y will host poet J.D. McClatchy for an evening of readings from his new English translations of Mozart libretti, including his interpretation of The Magic Flute, which of course is the opera known for its employment of Masonic symbols and themes. As the Y puts it:

An Evening of Mozart
with J.D. McClatchy
and the Metropolitan Opera

Poet J. D. McClatchy’s English-language libretto of Mozart’s The Magic Flute has become a holiday favorite at The Metropolitan Opera. He has now translated seven of the libretti, including The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Così Fan Tutte. “A remarkable achievement,” wrote Richard Wilbur. “Mozart and Da Ponte will be smiling down on this volume.” Upon the book’s publication, Mr. McClatchy is joined by singers from this year’s production of The Magic Flute for an evening of readings and performance.

In the music world, the translation of opera libretti out of their mother tongues is unorthodox and often disliked, and I bet McClatchy’s book of The Magic Flute raised eyebrows among opera traditionalists. (One would think they have their own ritual instructors demanding rigid adherence to the way it’s “always” been done!) Personally, I think he makes the opera accessible at no cost to the substance or nuance of the story.

The Magic Flute indeed returns to The Met this holiday season for eight performances between December 21 and January 6, 2011. Click here for information and tickets.

Photo courtesy 92nd Street Y.

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