Sunday, 8 November 2015

Mozart's sweet, simple, sublime song to marriage - from The Magic Flute

PAMINA (the woman):
In men, who feel love
A good heart is not lacking.

PAPAGENO (the man):
To sympathize with the sweet instincts
Is then the wives first duty.

We want to be happy with love
We live through love alone,
We live through love alone.

Love sweetens every torment
Every creature offers itself to her.

It seasons our daily lives,
It beckons us in the circle of nature.

Its higher purpose clearly indicates,
Nothing is more noble than wife and man,
 Man and wife, and wife and man,

Man and wife, and wife and man,
Reach to the height of Godliness.
Man and wife, and wife and man,
Reach to the height of Godliness.
To Godliness, to Godliness.

NOTES: In my opinion, the Magic Flute - an opera by Mozart - is the most sublime of all musical works. It is also simple and tuneful and comprehensible enough to be enjoyed by a child.

The duet here is in praise of marriage as a divine sacrament - but is not sung between lovers. The women is Pamina who is the princess, destined to marry the handsome Prince Tamino after passing successfully through trials to test the courage and purity. The man is Papageno - Tamino's sidekick, and a simple birdcatcher.

So, perhaps the sweetest of all songs to marriage is sung - sibling-like - by two companions each of whom loves and will marry another.

Only Mozart could have written this. The first verse is a very simple tune - close to being a a popular or folk song... then listen to what Mozart does with his decorations to the second verse. It makes your hair stand on end.

And, as so often with Mozart, it is the woodwind of the orchestra (flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoon) who are at work in pointing-up the very best passages.

This version is beautifully sung and superbly acted, in a Swedish translation for Ingmar Bergman's movie version - which I cannot recommend too highly: it is one of the best films I have ever seen. 

Papageno is an impulsive character, who has no interest in being a hero; but simply wants a wife and lots of children - he fails all the trials, but is nonetheless rewarded for his good heart and generous nature by a similar mate called Papagena.

This is wonderfully well done in the movie - combining innocence and 'sexiness' in a rare and wonderful way:

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