The kaleidoscope is a wonderful device. It fascinates us with its images’ symmetry, formed by reflections of numerous small bits collected in its “lens”. We are mesmerized by the array of colors and shapes the images form and re-form. The kaleidoscope provides a ready metaphor for ever-shifting relationships between diverse objects as they react to the slightest change in balance, angle, or motion. The objects in the lens don’t change; their positions with respect to each other do. When these changes occur, we are treated to new images, different configurations of shapes and colors, and new ways to appreciate those tiny elements within the lens.
This “Kaleidoscope” section of MozartsRoses is so named because in it I intend to offer a variety of “bits” that will create new ways to consider one particular work of art—Mozart’s Magic Flute. Over the years I have looked at this fascinating work through seemingly remote cultural paths—that is, using a multidisciplinary approach. Here, in my essay “Overview of The Magic Flute” for “Kaleidoscope”, I have reviewed my own understanding of some of the many cultural threads in the opera, and I have also summarized a variety of approaches which other scholars have taken to explore the opera since about 1950. One of these approaches is through the history of science. For this approach I am delighted to be able to have the good offices of Dr. Alfred Whittaker, an internationally reputed British geologist who has examined the opera in light of the history of his discipline. In the section featuring the history of his career I will provide a brief explanation of how I became acquainted with this exceptional man, whom I consider a valued colleague.
As will be apparent in Dr. Whittaker’s article “Mineralogy and Magic Flute” here in “Kaleidoscope”, the popular theater of Mozart’s time attracted not only actors and musicians but also professionals in scientific disciplines. How that fact affects The Magic Flute is nothing short of remarkable. I commend his article to your attention. It is likely to change your understanding of Mozart’s opera profoundly.
Other articles in preparation for “Kaleidoscope” are intended to form a foundation for enjoying the opera: “Basics”, listing characters, times, places, and so forth; and a brief reading list. Future contributions to “Kaleidoscope” will be forthcoming as they become available.
I hope you will find “Kaleidoscope” as exciting to explore as I have found it to create!