2012 sees the 200th anniversary of the death of Emanuel Schikaneder, certainly one of the most original and influential theater impresarios of his time and generation. Without him, we would lack a masterpiece which we know Goethe (and others) wished to continue in a sequel. What is less well-known is the fact that Schikaneder himself wrote a second part for The Magic Flute, entitled Das Labyrinth oder Der Kampf mit den Elementen (The Labyrinth, or the Struggle with the Elements). Schikaneder entrusted this work – which was completed, unlike Goethe's – to the Bavarian composer Peter von Winter, widely celebrated in Vienna at the time. After all, who but Schikaneder could know what happens next to the protagonists of the Magic Flute? The Queen of the Night – helped by Monostatos – keeps trying to get her daughter back, Papageno finds his long-lost family, and Sarastro brings in the big guns to get his way.
Director Alexandra Liedtke and set designer Raimund Voigt present this opera – which was a smash hit at its time – not in a conventional theater space, but at the Residenzhof, creating a link to the tradition of popular theater. Ivor Bolton conducts the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg. "I think it is essential to deal with the exact knowledge the audience has of The Magic Flute and its expectations. What fascinates me about The Labyrinth is the continuation of the story, the additional details about the figures and the ambivalence this creates. While the protagonists in Mozart's Magic Flute can be assigned to a simple, highly structured system of values, Schikaneder's sequel is much less clear-cut. It is not enough that 'good' – as embodied by Sarastro, Tamino and Pamina – has to triumph over 'evil'; it is questioned in general. ... Although I see many characteristics in the protagonists that are all too familiar to us, I will tell The Labyrinth as Schikaneder's libretto describes it: a great fairy-tale in which the exemplary and the playful are emphasized," the director explains.
Photo: Detail of a map of Vienna by Maximilian von Grimm with the Theater im Freihaus, 1797, © Wien Museum