The Magic Flute, possibly Mozart’s most famous opera, is often said to be the “Masonic” opera. But people tend to be mystified, wondering what makes it so Masonic. Having studied this topic a bit, I’ll give my own view. If you’re interested, keep reading….
The Magic Flute’s music was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Its lyrics were written by Emanuel Schikaneder. Both men were active Freemasons in the same Masonic lodge in Salzburg, Austria. The underlying story reminded them enough of Freemasonry, that they included many Masonic symbols in the opera’s music, lyrics, and general artistry.
At the heart of Freemasonry is the concept of taking 3 steps toward a better path. In an actual Masonic lodge, these are 3 ceremonies known as “degrees.” Their purpose is to initiate a candidate into this higher path.
But how is that reflected in The Magic Flute’s music? I would recommend going on youtube, and listening to the first 30 seconds of the opera’s overture. You will hear three notes, blasted in supremely confident style. Musically, the opera progresses in 3 steps, much like a brother of the Craft.
Philosophy is also part of this picture. Freemasonry’s early days occurred, while a philosophy known as The Enlightenment was spreading across Europe. Enlightenment ideals included rational thought, study of science, freedom of conscience, and opposition to tyrants.
But how is that reflected in The Magic Flute’s plot? Well, the story involves a lost prince being pursued by various forces of tyranny. He finds refuge in a temple – the stronghold of a mysterious and honorable order that promotes freedom of conscience, rational thought, and scientific study.
Eventually the prince passes through 3 ceremonies (known in the opera as “trials” or “ordeals”), and is initiated into the order. In essence, he becomes a Freemason. It should be noted, that there’s an anomaly to this initiation – one which might be startling. But I’ll leave the details to your own discovery!
Artists designing sets for The Magic Flute often include a giant blue sky adorned with astronomical symbols. The connection with Freemasonry would be another of its tenets – that life is to be understood through studying natural science – especially astronomy, geometry, and physics.
All this is rather abstract and philosophical. But so is Freemasonry. Only a certain kind of person would be interested. Are you?
WB Bob Casey, Worshipful Master 2016