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Quick Analysis of Mozart's Aria: Queen of the Night

Ben Zoltak is an artist & author with a keen ear for a variety of music, analyzing & breaking down eclectic forms for all who might hear.

Pencil sketch of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart taken from the most famous copy made by Barbara Krafft


Queen of the Night and the Magical Flute

This is one of Mozart's most famous arias, from the second half of one of his most famous operas "Die Zauberflöte" or The Magic Flute; Wolfgang was a Freemason so we can assume there are Freudian-dynamics aplenty in this one. Anyhow, this is one of, if not the, most iconic soprano pieces you're ever going to hear might as well figure out what the fat lady's singing about.

Aria, as described in the American Heritage Dictionary

a·ri·a (ä  r ē - ə )Share: n. 1. A solo vocal piece with instrumental accompaniment, as in an opera. 2. An air; a melody.

Here is one version of Mozart's Aria: Queen of the Night

The Queen's daughter Pamina is taken in by the thinking of an enlightened order of priests...

It turns out there's this old queen, "The Queen of the Night" and, if I understand my sources correctly, she represents an old way of thinking and behaving, revenge and cruelty being two of the hallmarks of that way of thinking. Her daughter Pamina is taken in by a kinder way of thinking laid out by an enlightened order of priests that toss around the ideas of Osiris and Isis led currently by the Queen of the Night's rival, a guy named Sarastro, who incidentally, received the key to the temple the Queen of the Night longs for but is powerless to own because her husband gave the power to Sarastro.

Anyway, long story short, the Queen of the Night gives a dagger to her daughter Pamina you know, to stab her rival Sarastro, but Pamina isn't down with hate and prejudice and what not (spoiler here) so she doesn't kill Sarastro. Instead by the end of the opera some kind of magic (not the flute, the flute turns sorrow into joy, swank instrument if you got one!) some kind of universal magic banishes the Queen of the Night and Sarastro who represents enlightened thinking, prevails.

Here's a time-lapse sketch of Mozart's face from the author's YouTube channell Bottomless Inkwell

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I wrote this essay intent on using language that wouldn't muddy the waters or obfuscate if you will, the meaning of the opera.

There you go, I'm not a big fan of opera but you gotta give it up to Wolfgang for this one, plus apparently, he wrote the music with the presence of mind that each characters accompaniment matched either their outmoded way of thinking by reflecting it with outmoded forms of music, or by their new (and incidentally kinder and forgiving) modern or contemporary forms. He also wrote each piece knowing personally the abilities of each singer that was currently performing the piece. Have you listened to the aria yet? I mean come on! It should send chills down your spine, what the mother asks of her daughter, and the beautifully tragic choice of Pamina to stand up to her toxic family member knowing full well she'd lose her position. That soprano! I'm telling you! Chills!

I wrote this essay intent on using language that wouldn't muddy the waters or obfuscate if you will, the meaning of the opera. Part of the impact of opera or classical music is supposed to be it's universal appeal, sadly it's oft times co-opted by overfed ne'er-do-wells that leverage its outward austerity for their own nefarious means.

In other words, anybody can love opera, or classical music. Sadly, sometimes people in power positions try to pry it away from everyday people, but just thought I'd remind anyone who might care, no matter who may try to make you feel like an outsider or a poseur, classical music and opera can and should be enjoyed by everyone, not just a rarefied group of elites. Usually the meaning of this art form is placed more in the underlying tones of the music, more so than the nuanced details of the story behind it. Don't be afraid because somebody who uses bigger words than you're used to seems to own this kind of music, you can be a part of it too. You should learn to enjoy it, because inside opera and classical music you'll find a deep understanding of what it means to be a delicate and vulnerable being, in ways you won't find on sitcoms or romcoms, in a way that's truly timeless, enduring and revealing of our shared human experience.

Another analysis of a completely different kind of song from artist & author Ben Zoltak


The American Heritage Dictionary Second College Edition Houghton MIfflinn Copyright 1985 Page 127

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