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Die Zauberflöte was not the first Masonic opera. Ten years earlier Johann Gottlieb Naumann's Osiride had been performed in Dresden. Since it was thought in 1791 that Freemasonry might soon be outlawed by the local government, both Mozart and his librettist may have wanted to promulgate its theories while that was still possible.

Natalie Dessay (Pamina) and Toby Spence (Tamino) in the fire. Photo © 2006 Ken Howard
Natalie Dessay (Pamina) and Toby Spence (Tamino) in the fire. Photo © 2006 Ken Howard

Receipts from the two hundred and twenty-three performances that began with Die Zauberflöte's Sept 1991 première allowed Schickaneder, who also managed the performing company, to build a theater in the city. Unfortunately, he was unable to retain ownership of it for very long.

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Copyright © 3 September 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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