Magic, Egyptian, Egyptology, Europe, History, 18th century, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Zauberflöte, Settings
Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and librettist Emanuel Schikaneder lived and created during the height of eighteenth-century interest in and fascination with Egypt. The Magic Flute's Egyptial setting would therefore evoke in their contemporaneous audience notions of a distant land with an exotic and magical culture. The numerous Egyptian elements of the world are representative of its era and are situated near the end of a continuum of European thought about ancient Egypt before the solid foundation of modern day Egyptology had been laid. To Europeans, Egypt was a murky and mysterious landscape, one that easily lent itself to imaginative speculations about the purpose of its awesome architecture, the nature of its arcane ritual ceremonies, and the knowledge contained in its intriguing, then-undeciphered language. Such European perception of ancient Egypt informed the cultural productions of the late eighteenth century, including The Magic Flute.
"European Views of Egyptian Magic and Mystery: A Cultural Context for The Magic Flute,"
BYU Studies Quarterly: Vol. 43:
3, Article 10.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/byusq/vol43/iss3/10