• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 5232

    Old Master & British Pictures

    31 October 2007, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 38

    Austrian School, late 18th Century

    An opera company preparing for The Magic Flute

    Price Realised  


    Austrian School, late 18th Century
    An opera company preparing for The Magic Flute
    oil on canvas
    23 x 28¾ in. (58.5 x 73 in.)

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    The Magic Flute, or Die Zauberflöte, an opera composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) to a libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder (1751-1812), was premiered in Vienna on 30 September, 1791, at the suburban Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden, only two months before Mozart's death on 5 December. Mozart conducted the orchestra, while Schikaneder himself played the comic part of the bird-catcher Papageno, and the role of the Queen of the Night was sung by Mozart's sister-in-law Josepha Hofer.
    Maynard Solomon has observed that 'although there were no reviews of the first performances, it was immediately evident that Mozart and Schikaneder had achieved a great success, the opera drawing immense crowds and reaching hundreds of performances during the 1790s'. The present painting shows an opera company, presumably from the 1790s, preparing for a performance, with the Queen of the Night seated in black at a mirror, and Papagena raising her skirt to reveal feathered pantaloons, while other members of the cast are shown practising singing or in various states of deshabille.

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