Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)

A few weeks after seeing Don Giovani (my first opera experience) I was fortunate enough to see Die Zauberflöte – The Magic Flute. This opera was also written by Mozart, and it’s interesting to hear the differences in the tone of the music. While Don Giovani felt mostly tumultuous, The Magic Flute felt light with hints of shadow. As a person not familiar with operatic music, neither having studied it nor spent much time listening to it, I know that there are tons of things I might have missed or that went over my head, so take whatever I say with a grain of salt, I’m speaking through a limited view.

Like Don Giovanni, the costumes were very modern, but in this case, it felt out of place. I expected fantastical but was given pedestrian. Perhaps it’s the way I imagine fantasy when I read it, or the way it’s depicted on screen, but I wanted flashier costumes. I read somewhere1 that the Met Opera is struggling to bring in younger crowds and had to dip into its endowment to cover its operations cost this year, I don’t have a solution for that, but I don’t think modernizing the costumes is that solution. However, that was the end of my disappointment. The rest of it was magnificent.

The pit was raised to include the musicians in the show – for the bells and flute – there was a foley artist2 providing sound effects and a visual artist who projected his chalk art on the screen in real-time. I read in a review that there was too much going on, but I think there was just enough going on, especially against the stark stage and costuming. The visual artist made it feel a little bit like a silent movie while the foley artist made it feel a little like an early 1900s cartoon; so maybe I can see what that reviewer was hinting at, but I was strangely ok with this mix.

The singers and orchestra were amazing- I adored Stephen Milling’s voice as Sarastro. Overall the experience was enthralling, and again I’m so in awe of the fact that no one is miked! The songs were in German, and I knew the synopsis so the story was easy to follow along3. Of course, The Queen of the Night’s Aria (Der Hölle Rache) was the most recognizable piece of the entire show4 but my favourite was Ach, ich fühl5!

It was a fantastically fun night that I was on a music and good company high for a few days afterwards.


1. Or maybe I saw it on TikTok?
2. Did I go home and casually look up foley artists after this? Perhaps! It’s quite fascinating.
3. Note that there are subtitles – every chair has a screen that shows subtitles – but mine was broken, so for the first 20 minutes I basically listened to the show instead of reading.
4. I made a joke that it’s funny that this is the only song people will remember when they leave, and on the subway platform, waiting for the train someone was singing that part.
5. Of course I have to like the most dramatic love song.


If you don’t feel love’s yearning, I shall find peace in death!

Die Zauberflöte (K620), Ach, ich fühl

A Night at the Opera: Don Giovanni

I attended an opera at the Met Opera House recently. I have so many questions1

The orchestra began with a bang and drifted into a tumultuous riff carrying with it a melodic undertone – a little foreshadowing. It’s a tale about the lecherous Giovanni, who spends most of the play showering unwanted attention on women – most of whose affections are otherwise engaged. It follows him from the opening murder2 to his unrepentant death where he’s pretty much dragged into hell.

Having never experienced an Opera3 I did a tiny bit of searching beforehand to figure out what to expect. I knew the entire thing was sung in Italian and that there would be translation devices at each seat, and I knew that it would be long. I decided against listening to the music beforehand like I do with musicals because I won’t understand the words anyway! I did read the synopsis to better follow the story, but armed with very little knowledge I ventured into the um, unknown.

This production of Don Giovanni had a contemporary set, and modern costumes deviating at only one point – when Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, and Don Ottavio attended the party (or like I whispered in my friend’s ear “Masquerade!”4). While I know conceptually that this isn’t standard costuming I didn’t find it distracting at all, and even though I thought the starkness of the background would be distracting it did quite the opposite, forcing the eye to look at the actors versus the scene.

The plot itself was somewhat discomforting, especially when viewed through the modern lens after the Me Too movement. However, as a casual observer of Booktok, I wondered if some of the plot – especially Masetto and Zerlina’s storyline – couldn’t be found in one of the more recent viral novels out there5. (To be abundantly clear, this is in no way an approval for lack of consent, merely an observation).

Paying attention to the translation was a little tough but I read enough to get the gist of what was happening on stage. The orchestra and singers were amazing. I’ve done a lot of searching this week and while I’m not 100% certain I think none of them had mics6 – neither the orchestra nor the singers, and while I’m not an audio nerd, I know how hard it is to make a performance audible within different spaces, so I felt some wonder listening to them perform and hearing the voices travel across the stage.

Overall, after putting aside my mild melancholy7 and anxiety about making my train home8, I think I rather enjoyed the Opera.


1 And some of them are about the opera!
2 Yes, murder, that’s not a typo (this time)
3 Does Phantom count?
4 Which was a nod not only to Phantom but also to the hours we spent memorizing that song. “Flash of mauve, splash of puce, fool and king, ghoul and goose”
5 Looking at you – you know who you are!
6 There are photos and articles online of them wearing a mic pack, but in almost all those articles the reason is for recording and live streaming – which makes sense to me.
7 All week long I’ve had bouts of sadness and feeling downcast until I finally realized it was Mother’s Day this weekend, the third one without Mom.
8 This was the first time I would be taking such a late train home since the panorama.


My dear lady! This is the catalogue of the women my master has loved. It’s a list that I’ve compiled – look at it; read it over with me! In Italy, six hundred and forty; in Germany, two hundred and thirty-one; a hundred in France; ninety-one in Turkey – but in Spain there are already a thousand and three.

Don Giovanni – Leporello, Act I, sc. v