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Zauberflöte 2.2
musiktheatralic fragments
with words by Johann Wolfgang Goethe
(co-author Susanne Stelzenbach)

Zauberflöte 2.2 had its premiere on August 27th 1999 in Krefeld as a co-production with the Hebbel-Theater Berlin, further performances took place during the Festival
Berliner Festwochen/Das XX Jahrhundert ca. 75 min


Kirstin Hasselmann, Königin der Nacht (soprano)
Michaela Mehring, Pamina (mezzosoprano)
Frank Valentin, Tamino (tenor)
John T. Gates, Monostatos (bassbariton)


Janina Sachau, Papagena
Kai Hufnagel, Papageno
Frank Albrecht, Sarastro

Art Ensemble NRW

Bernd Bolsinger, clarinet
Andreas Roth, trombone
Scott Roller violoncello
Olaf Normann, percussion

Susanne Stelzenbach, musical direction
Thomas Krupa , staging
Andreas Jander, lighting design
Yvonne Lötz, costumes
Ralf Hoyer, sound installation
Ulrike Gondorf, dramaturgy
Max Jerschke, allestant director

The textual basis is constituted by Johann Wolfgang Goethe Der Zauberflöte zweyter Theil. These piece by Goethe is left as fragment.

Description of the work Zauberflöte 2.2

by John T. Gates


Zauberflöte 2.2 is a chamber opera for four singers, three actors, a chamber ensemble, and an installation for electronic sounds. With the exception of the Königin der Nacht, the roles are not vocally cast as in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. The parts are cast as follows:

Königin der Nacht—soprano / Pamina—alto / Tamino—baritone / Monostatos—bass / Papageno—actor / Papagena—actor / Sarastro—actor

The delineation between singer and actor is blurred, however, as the singers have spoken texts and the actors sung lines. The frequent use of Sprechgesang intensifies this effect. The chamber ensemble consists of clarinet, violoncello, trombone, and various percussion instruments, such as timpani, chimes, cymbal, vibraphone, woodblock, and triangle. Integrated into the stage as twelve large acrylic pipes is an electronic sound installation.
The work is divided into eight sections with a total duration of seventy-five minutes. Section A opens with all characters on the stage, where they remain for the entirety of the opera. The work begins as high-pitch static sounds resonate from the speakers in the pipes. These static sounds mutate into a low rumbling that alters in pitch as the stage personnel tilt the pipes from the stage floor. The remainder of the scene consists of a text collage superimposed above electronic and percussive sounds. The seven singers and actors make their initial utterance simultaneously, each speaking one of seven different words. Instead of establishing the type of text comprehensibility necessary for narration, which is impossible here, the scene sets an atmosphere of somber expectation. With approximate intonation and loosely specified articulation of the Sprechgesang , the scene achieves indications of a composite melody. Here, the four singers introduce a halftone cluster (E, F, F-sharp, G). This type of cluster is a fundamental aspect of the tonal vocabulary of the work. Additional compositional devices are chance elements in which pitches are only approximated and isolation of phonetic elements of a word, such as the “n” that the Königin borrows from Tamino’s “an”. Others are the use of non-vocal sounds, such as the Königin’s panting and Monostatos’s whistling in addition to his vocal fry and text improvisations...

Section B introduces elements that are central to the organization of the rest of the work at both musical and dramatic levels. In addition to the aforementioned tone clusters, dissonant melodic and harmonic intervals, such as the major seventh, minor ninth, and the tritone, dominate this scene and most of the remainder of the work. Pointillist techniques of broken melodic, rhythmic, and dynamic structures are evident throughout the scene and are a significant unifying element for the opera. In terms of treatment of text, section B demonstrates the remaining methods used in the piece. In addition to complete musical setting of words, there is spoken text in alternation with musical punctuation, freely spoken text without musical accompaniment, spoken text in dialogue with ostinato instrument, spoken text over orchestra accompaniment, sung text in rhythmically free dialogue with ostinato instrument, and Sprechgesang. Additionally, the scene introduces the fragmentation of words into their singular constitutive elements, which recurs throughout the work.

The scene presents the work’s basic methods of dramatic treatment. Present tense, synchronic narration of non-synchronic events of the past is one such element with which the scene opens, essentially a fragmentation of normal temporal relations. In this case, each character acts independently from the actions of the others. The Königin-Monostatos duet is a synchronic, dialogical interaction in the present. It is juxtaposed with past situations of other characters, which they likewise relate in present tense. Monostatos tells, for example, of the madness with which Pamina and Tamino will be afflicted should they see one another, while in the same scene Pamina already sings of the paralyzing insanity with which she has been stricken. These and other instances of temporal fragmentation constitute the boldest aspect of the opera’s abstraction.
In terms of narration in section B, the Königin expresses in her solitude that she hears nothing. Pamina in paralysis and Tamino in insanity hear those who carry their loved one. Sarastro, like a therapist, notes that one must express one’s feelings. Monostatos invokes the Königin der Nacht, whose furiously tempestuous response rivals Mozart’s Rache-Aria. He regrets that he was not able to fulfill her order to capture Pamina and Tamino’s newborn son, explaining that Sarastro had bewitched the child’s golden chest so that it was too heavy to bear. He tells how he then with his own magical powers sealed the coffin for eternity and cast an evil spell upon it: Pamina and Tamino will be stricken with madness upon seeing each other, and should they ever see their child, it would immediately disappear for eternity.

Seven contrasting segments comprise section C. The first is a temporally loosely constrained but non-metrical, unaccompanied collage of words and word fragments. Papageno and Papagena exchange the final syllable of their respective names. Sarastro speaks the fragmented components of the word Zeit (time) and Universum (universe);
Monostatos repeats the English word “fun;” and the Königin initiates the first part of the fragmented sentence, Sind wir allein—wer weiß—vielleicht—die Zeit vergeht—Zeit. (Are we alone—who knows—perhaps—time is fleeting—time)

In the second segment, Tamino sings an abbreviated variation of his music from section B. Rhythmically spoken, Pamina interjects, “Ich höre” (I hear), the Königin der Nacht exclaims, “Nein,” and Sarastro ponders, “Warum war das frühe Universum so heiß?” (Why was the youthful universe so hot?). Electronic sounds of ringing glass serve as a transition into the brief third unit in which Sarastro speaks, “So wandelt fort und stehet niemals stille, / Das ist der weisen Männer Wille, / Vertraut auf sie, gehorchet blind; / Solang ihr wandelt lebt das Kind.” (Then depart and pause not for rest. This is the wish of the wise. Trust and blindly obey. The child will live only as long as you maintain your journey). Accompanied by incessant, electronically produced glass organ sounds, the fourth segment consists of an ordered but non-metrical, alternately spoken chorus of the German exclamation “ach!” The entire cast delivers the text on various dramatic attitudes: painfully, furious, cynical, etc. In the fifth unit, Tamino sings of the beauty of fatherhood and the tragedy of his loss. He is accompanied by clarinet obbligato, cello improvisations, and interjections of Pamina and the Königin der Nacht. Glass sounds return for the sixth segment, a spoken text of Papagena, “Und schmerzlich sind die Gatten selbst geschieden, / Nicht Herz an Herz ist ihnen Trost gegönnt. / Dort wandelt er, dort weinet sie getrennt; / Sarastro nur verschafft dem Hause Frieden.” (And the couple is divided, not allowed each other’s consolation, each on a lonely journey. Only Sarastro can bring the family peace.) The electronic sounds mutate into those of dripping water as a transition into the final unit, a precisely rhythmically notated chorus, spoken in unison and punctuated by aspirations and whistling:
Wenn mit betrübten Sinne wir lauschen, so hören wir da drinnen gar wunderlich es rauschen, wir sehen, wir hören was sich regen, wir sehen was sich bewegen, wir horchen und wir schweigen. Und nachts, wenn jeder Ton verhallt, so hören wir ein Kind, das lallt. Ach!

(When we solemnly listen, we hear a miraculous rustling from within. We observe, we hear something moving. We silently attend. And at night when all is still, then alas, we hear the murmuring of a child.)

An abbreviation of Section A precedes Section D, which the scenarium calls a “rap.” In its dramatic content, the number is related to Mozart’s Papageno-Papagena duet. The two contemplate the source of their unhappiness in the context of their material well-being. They decide they would like to have many Papagenos and Papagenas, but finally refrain from the idea and call on the powers of destiny to provide them with continued abundance. Section D is divided into three parts. The first introduces a rhythmic ostinato: eighth-eighth-quarter (the number’s main structural element) to which Papageno and Papagena dialogically recite their text. With a short freely spoken monologue, Sarastro interrupts the rap duet and declares, out of the context of the scene, that the human being was intended for much higher purposes than corporeal reproduction. The bird couple, in turn, abruptly re-enters the scene with the re-initialization of the rap, now with the ostinato accompaniment based on a tritone in the cello. Monostatos, Tamino, and Pamina perform a vocal backup group. The Königin der Nacht joins the number but fully out of context in a superimposed intonation of a lyric poem, “Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh’” (Above all hilltops is peace).

Section E is one of the more lyric portions of the work. It consists of seven contrasting segments. A low electronic rumbling from the sound installation opens the scene and accompanies the entirety of the first segment. The mother and daughter pair, Pamina and the Königin der Nacht, sing in lyric melancholy of happiness and harmony. The duet is mostly unaccompanied, with the exception of frequent percussive punctuation from woodblock, vibraphone and timpani. In terms of compositional technique, the subsection uses the work’s ubiquitous pointillistic principles but achieves lyricism by augmentation of note values. As before, dissonant intervals such as the tritone and major seventh dominate. Pamina ends the segment with a variation of Tamino’s madness motive. The second segment of section E, an instrumental interlude, is unique in its use of minimalist technique. Here, now without the sound installation’s electronic rumbling, the clarinet, trombone and cello execute typical minimalist variations. In a further stylistic variation, the third segment is spoken without instrumental accompaniment but with the above-mentioned electronic sounds. Although the text is not syntactically connected, the individual words indicate Sarastro’s contemplation of the cycle of birth and decay.

The fourth segment constitutes another instrumental interlude. Here the vibraphone joins the instruments of the previous interlude, but the method of composition returns to pointillistic techniques. The following segment is a brief, unaccompanied spoken dialogue, which is once briefly interrupted by a short musical quotation from the preceding interlude. Here, Papagena and Pamina exchange fragments of a sentence, which points to man’s power to assert his will. They note that the failure to accept this responsibility opens the door to whims of destiny. The sixth segment is also an instrumental interlude, which combines the music from the previous two interludes, minimalist and pointillist. Concluding Section E is an extended monologue of Sarastro. The text is freely spoken, not rhythmically related to the pointillist accompaniment by the clarinet and cello. This segment delivers the only narratively important information of the entire section. Here, Sarastro notes that he must undertake a pilgrimage during which the magic spell cast on the golden cradle of Genius would increasingly weaken with his distance.

Section F is a compact and very plaintive scene in which Pamina and Tamino reflect upon their lost happiness. It is accompanied by the glass sounds of the sound installation and by bow strokes of the vibraphone. An atonal chime cadenza introduces several entrances, each concluding with the a cappella question, “Aber ach, was stört das Glück?” (But alas, what thus thwarts happiness?) A non-metrical elaboration of small intervals (mostly major and minor seconds) constitutes the vocal melody of the section, which concludes with a six-measure, drastic reduction of Section A.

For the world premiere, all of Section G, a lengthy monologue for Sarastro, was deleted. All that remains is a ten-measure, pointillist instrumental excerpt, which functions as a transition to the final section.

The finale, Section H, begins with a brief dialogical exchange between the Königin der Nacht and Monostatos. She commands him to be attentive and to be prepared to administer the prophesied punishment. He gives her his assurance, singing, “ . . . der Himmel glüht so rot, und öffnet sich der Kasten, so sei der Knabe tot.” (The heavens glow so red. If the chest is opened, the child will be dead.) The scene continues with musical elements from previous numbers. The bird pair, for example, repeats a part of the rap in which they told of material overabundance. They are interrupted by the Königin der Nacht and Monostatos in a short, spoken exchange from the C section “Sind wir allein?” (Are we alone?) Thereafter Papageno and Papagena rhythmically recite a text, noting the terror of the night. From this point, chance elements dominate the musical structure, although pointillist and minimalist techniques provide for unity. Very loosely restricted rhythms provide the impetus for ever increasingly chaotic musical constellations. This culminates in a free, rhythmical looping in which all characters simultaneously deliver differing texts. A sudden, complete silence interrupts the disorder. In this stifled atmosphere, the actors, in ensemble and accompanied by a rhythmically free ascending glissando of the singers, rhythmically conclude:
Now quiet! The child
Sleeps no more.
But little his fear
Of lion and spear.
To him a hindrance
Is nothing more.
Aloft he now sails,
The realm of souls.

From a freely swinging loudspeaker the central figure of the opera at last speaks, ending the work:

Here I am beloved,
And am I not beautiful?
Who then would sadden
To see his own son.
Born in the night,
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