PAPAGENO: Right, then, that's still how it is!
Since there is nothing holding me back,
good night, thou false world!
-- most of our Magic Flute translations by Robert A. Jordan
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (b), Papageno; Berlin Philharmonic, Karl Böhm, cond. DG, recorded June 1964
Or in English: "Fare thee well, thou world of pain!"
[in English] John Brownlee (b), Papageno; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Bruno Walter, cond. Live performance, Dec. 26, 1942
We were just looking at Mozart's and Beethoven's exceptional use of minor keys for opening movements of symphonies and concertos, and one point I could have made more explicit is how frequently -- among these admittedly infrequent cases -- the "thematic" material that inspires such a plan is more "motivic" than really melodic -- think of Mozart's D minor Piano Concerto (No. 20) or of Beethoven's Fifth and Ninth Symphonies.
But of course the minor mode doesn't preclude great tunes, and I think that's what planted the thought of this great moment from The Magic Flute in my head. It's the moment when Papageno the lowly bird-catcher is driven by his loneliness to the ultimate despair, and I think the Fischer-Dieskau performance in particular makes it clear that Mozart plays this moment "for real." (Not to worry, we're going to hear the complete scene, er, eventually.)
As I suggested in Friday night's "double preview," "Enter the bird-catcher; exit Sir Colin Davis," we're focusing this week on Papageno, though as we often do, we're going to start with the Overture.
OUR THREE PRINCIPAL PAPAGENOS
AND THEIR DISTINGUISHED CONDUCTORS