The inspirations and intrigue behind Mozart’s opera ‘The Magic Flute’

Pianist Katie Mahan in front of the cottage where Mozart wrote large parts of his opera “The Magic Flute.”

Freemasons, the Illuminati and the mystery of who killed Mozart are all part of the lore surrounding the creation of Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute."

In this episode of Mozart Snapshots, pianist Katie Mahan takes us to two sources of inspiration for Mozart's most successful opera. In the woods outside the wealthy Aigen neighborhood in Salzburg, there is a cave once used as a meeting place by the Freemasons and the Illuminati that scholars believe was the source of inspiration for the original stage setting of the opera.

"When people compare this place to the original designs of the stage sets for 'The Magic Flute,' there are clear similarities," said Mahan. "It's a story that's well known here in Salzburg, that this place really was the inspiration."

Mahan says it's known that Mozart and his whole family frequented the forest where the cave is located, and so the idea that Mozart used the little watery cave as inspiration isn't so far-fetched. "Mozart had been associated with Freemasons even long before he became a Freemason himself, because both his grandfather and his uncle were Freemasons."

Also in this episode, Katie takes us to the cottage where Mozart wrote a large portion of "The Magic Flute." The cottage originally was located on the land behind the Viennese theater where the opera was performed, which was a distance from Mozart's residence. The theater owner and librettist for the opera, Emanuel Schikaneder, gave Mozart the cottage to stay in so he wouldn't lose time commuting from home to the theater. Rumor has it that when time grew close to opening night, Schikaneder even locked Mozart in the cottage until he finished the score.

That's just one of several myths and mysteries surrounding "The Magic Flute," which include a theory about Mozart's unexpected death that happened during the original run of the opera. It's a twist on the speculation that someone killed an otherwise healthy Mozart. Have a watch.

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