Guys. Guys. Are you sitting down? You should sit down. I am about to remove your brain from your head, blend it into a froth, and pour it back into your skull, such is the shocking nature of my coming statement.
This week’s BSO concert is a semi-staged production of Die Zauberflote, or The Magic Flute. It is by Mozart.
I am going. And what’s more, I AM EXCITED.
I AM GOING TO AN ALL-MOZART CONCERT AND I AM EXCITED.
Here, allow me to explain. This is why I don’t like Mozart: he’s so… dashed-off. He’s strangely fun to play — I think because, as an old (pro-Wolfie) violin teacher once pointed out, he’s very sarcastic — but I always feel like somewhere underneath the notes Mozart is tugging at your sleeve, whispering, “Not bad, huh? I just busted that out on my lunch break. Took me like a minute and a half to write.”
Because of this, with Mozart, I feel like all I’ve done is play something pretty but entirely empty, because all the composer was trying to say with the music was “I’M BRILLIANT!” Ponder a Mozart symphony. Now ponder a Beethoven symphony. Which makes you feel like you’ve been somewhere?
Having said all that: I think Mozart’s operas really ARE brilliant. I think it’s because opera by definition has a narrative, thus forcing him to express ideas outside of his own genius. Instead of writing a piece as extraordinary Mozart, he must write the piece as overjoyed Papageno finding his Papagena, all the way across the spectrum to Don Giovanni as he meets his doom. Opera funnels Mozart’s creativity and talent into focus, and a focus at least partially away from himself. For me, that makes all the difference.
And so this Thursday, February 25 at 8 pm, I’ll be way at the back of the orchestra seats at Strathmore wildly excited for Mozart’s The Magic Flute (extra excited because I once had a Classical Kids audio book that told a version of the story). Join me there, or hit up the Meyerhoff on Saturday, February 26 at 8 pm or Sunday, February 27 at 3 pm. If you can; I think if not all then almost all tickets have been sold. People really love Wolfie.
Thank you for a perfect description of why Mozart leaves me cold – and even irritates me.