News: Mozart and Mormons

Deseret Book’s Mormon Life Web site has added a new featured titled BYU Studies Corner. The first posting is Mormonism and Mozart’s Magic Flute by James T. Summerhays. The article is related to a Nov. 16 panel discussion on “The Magic Flute: Mozart, Meanings, and Mormons” hosted by BYU Studies that featured several BYU faculty members — including my former German instructor and home teaching companion (and now BYU professor) Rob McFarland and Mormon literature professor extraordinaire Gideon Burton.

The event represents an actual move to market the current issue of BYU Studies which is devoted to the Magic Flute. I need to get my hands on it because, as far as I know, it marks the first extended, multi-author discussion of a great work of world literature in terms of/in relation to Mormonism. One of my interests is in using Mormonism as a basis for aesthetic theory so hopefully this represents a postive step in that direction.

For those unfamiliar with The Magic Flute, Mozart worked Masonic themes and symbols heavily into the work. The LDS temple ceremony contains similar elements and thus the interest in The Magic Flute among Mormons.

5 thoughts on “News: Mozart and Mormons”

  1. If anyone is interested in seeing a good film adaptation of The Magic Flute (to see what those BYU professors are talking about), I recommend Ingmar Bergman’s version. The singing is in Swedish and the performers are not opera stars, so if you are familiar with the opera, it might be slightly disconcerting. Bergman’s interpretation is interesting, however. He doesn’t gloss over the symbolic and ritualistic elements of the story at all, but rather makes them a central focus. He does make one significant change to the story–Sarastro becomes Pamina’s father, thus transforming his quarrel with the Queen of the Night into a kind of custody battle. 

    Posted by Katherine

  2. I seem to recall one of my professors being irked at how the Bergman film switched the order of some of the “trial” elements, which might have some effect on how certain symbolisms play out. I’ll have to go back through my notes–maybe it was another production that did this. 

    Posted by Jeremy

  3. You’re right. Bergman does switch the order of some events in the last part of the opera. I can’t remember exactly what the changes were, though. 

    Posted by Katherine

  4. John Fowles also has an excellent article in the BYU Studies issue, and made a fabulous presentation at the conference, from what I hear! Congrats, John! 

    Posted by Rosalynde

  5. Yes, congrats to John. He can also be found blogging at “A Bird’s Eye View” (see the first link under Mormon Blogs on the right nav column of this page). 

    Posted by William Morris

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