Magic Flute libretto

Just arrived: big book (2011 copyright) of Seven Mozart Librettos, verse translations by J.D. McClatchy: Idomeneo, Abduction, Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così, Clemenza di Tito, Magic Flute. In facing pages, with the originals on the left, McClatchy’s translations on the right.

[Total digression: a few years ago, when I went back to West Lawn PA to get a distinguished alum award from my high school (incredibly gratifying), one of my hosts at the school was a woman who knew McClatchy, and talked knowledgeably and affectionately about him. She was, however, a bit surprised that McClatchy and I didn’t know one another; I suppose she thought (as my man Jacques did, all his life) that I would of course be acquainted with other gay intellectuals. (Well, Jacques at least had some reason for his belief: every so often, somebody he knew only by their reputation or their writing would turn up for dinner at our house.)]

I mention the translation of Zauberflöte because it’s the one Julie Taymor used for her fabulous Metropolitan Opera production of the opera, which I’ve posted about here.

McClatchy really gets the serious silliness / playful seriousness of Papageno (who to my mind is the central figure of the opera, no matter what anyone else says — and my grand-daughter agrees with me). Here’s Papageno in scene 29 of act 2 (close to the end of the opera), playing his panpipe:

Papagena, Papagena, Papagena!
Sweetheart! Dearest! My beloved!
Useless! She is lost forever!
I was never meant to have her.
By chattering I missed my chance.
Here’s the end to my romance.
Ever since I sipped that wine
And saw the girl that should be mine,
The fire in my heart’s severe.
It warms me there, and scorches here!
Papagena! My dove! My darling!
Papagena! My pretty starling!
She doesn’t know the way to find me.
It’s time to leave the world behind me.
Since my love was all in vain,
It’s time to end a life of pain.

He prepares to hang himself, but thinks to use his panpipes and summon the Three Boys, who tell him to use the bells and call his mate Papagena. Bliss ensues.

Fabulous renderings of the libretti into English.

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