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The Lover's Path: Innocence - Tamino and Pamina

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The Lover's Path: Innocence - Tamino and Pamina


The story of Tamino and Pamina, from Mozart's opera Die Zauberflöte - The Magic Flute - is an inspired choice for Card 0 of the Major Arcana, Innocence, equivalent to the more traditional Fool. The music and story of the Magic Flute are themselves apparently simple and innocent, even nonsensical, yet they hide a masterful depth and complexity which remains disarmingly attractive.

Kris took some poetic liberties in her summary of the opera's story; there is a more literal telling of the original plot in this Synopsis of The Magic Flute. There is a very interesting dynamic in the opera between darkness and light - as in life neither darkness nor light are wholly or inherently good or evil.

Emanuel Schikaneder, a friend of Mozart and a theatrical producer, wrote the story or libretto, based on August Jacob Liebeskind's fairy tale Lulu, oder Die Zauberflöte. In the original story an evil sorceror has abducted a princess from her mother, the Queen of the Night. The princely hero rescues the damsel in distress with the use of positive magic. But before the operatic work could be completed a Viennese competitor had put the same story into successful production. Schikaneder then rewrote the story in an Egyptian setting and introduced a second narrative which tells of a symbolic initiation into Freemasonry, depicted as the dominion of Isis and Osiris.

The opera shows strong traces of both these two stories in its evolution. In the first act we believe that the Queen of the Night represents the positive feminine power of darkness, the archetype of the Moon, fighting to restore her daughter from the evil lust of the dark masculine. In the second act we see the story from its counterpoint, as the revengeful Queen of the Night tries to manipulate her daughter into murdering Sarastro, the keeper of the solar disk of enlightenment. Mozart's music in any event transcends the vengeful words, the Queen's coloratura aria being one of the most soaringly beautiful songs anyone has ever written. In watching the unfolding plot, the audience has to weigh these dualities, much as an innocent has to come to terms with a complex world in which things are rarely well defined or absolute.

Early in the Act One, Pamina and Papageno, a comic sidekick for Prince Tamino, state the theme of the story in a delightful duet. I am using my transcription of the English subtitles from the DVD of the definitive Covent Garden production of Die Zauberflöte conducted by Colin Davis:
Quote:
We all long for love,
Everything that lives makes sacrifices for love,
It stands at the centre of the circle of life.
The opera is full of images of innocence. Tamino is described as "innocent, upright and wise", we see Pamina and Papageno act with simple purity and trust, and the Queen of the Night sends them three boys (rather like angel figures) who guide the heroes with their faith and honest wisdom.

In the scene on this card, the two lovers have entered the final trial of their initiatory journey. Two dark knights sing:
Quote:
The man who carries his burden along this path is purified by fire, water, air and earth. If he can conquer the fear of death he will ascend into heaven.
Transcending the misogyny of the times, Pamina gives Tamino her flute and sings to her beloved:
Quote:
I shall never leave your side. I shall lead you, while love is my guide. It will strew the way with roses, but no rose is without a thorn. Play your magic flute so it protects us on our way... By the power of its music we walk in joy through death's dark night.
In the card, not only is Tamino blindfolded, but even Pamina cannot see her footing because of the obscuring mist. Tamino must trust Pamina to lead him, and Pamina must trust Tamino to protect them both with the music of the flute, just as she must also trust her own faith and loving instincts to bring them to safety. Although the opera suggests that they will be tested by all four elements, they actually only have to deal with Fire and Water.

Lastly, it is worth noting that there is an abundance of references made within the story to an initiation into the guidance and worship of Isis and Osiris, who just happen to be the characters Kris uses for Major VI - Love.
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Wow... Thanks so much Sophie-David.

My knowledge of Opera is not good but I can see it's going to get better.

I'll have to come back to this card once my deck arrives I think... I need to see it in the flesh before I can say anything. I can't actually see any detail from the web site images.

irisa
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A beautiful and thorough description of the background of this card. How apropos for the Fool! I just got my set last night and am looking forward to the study. Thanks, S&D!
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Thank you MoonMaiden. I feel that Kris Waldherr chose the perfect subject for this card. The opera itself is one of the few that appeals to all ages and experience. In the DVD commentary, conductor Colin Davis touches on the innocence and apparent simplicity of the The Magic Flute which hides a work of profound artistry:
Quote:
Its the kind of universality of it [that] is so completely enchanting. You can be an old man like me or you can be a little girl of seven and get infinite enjoyment out this apparent nonsense, but I think its the juxtaposition of the light hearted magical music and the seriousness which gives it the tension which makes it have such power over us.
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I agree. The Magic Flute is one of my favorites. I love the music and the storyline.
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