Item description for The Magic Flute: Die Zauberflote. an Alchemical Allegory by M. F. M. Van Den Berk & M. F. M. Van Den Berk...
This volume demonstrates for the first time that Mozart's opera Die Zauberflte is an enactment of the alchemical opus magnum, in the form of a chemical wedding. Towards the end of the 18th century, alchemy was still a prominent mystical current within the Order of Freemasons of which Mozart and his librettists were members. The central part focuses on the opera's alchemical structure, whereas the historical and mythological backgrounds are also dealt with extensively. The book comes with 3 CD's offering a rendition of the integral opera, in contrast to the common practice of leaving out major parts of the libretto. The Magic Flute is a fascinating journey of discovery, an initiation into Initiation. With complete original libretto and over 100 pictures.
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Magic Flute: Die Zauberflote. an Alchemical Allegory?
An Inspiring and Monumental Work! Jul 8, 2008
This book is worth it's heavy weight in gold! In fact, it is so well researched and so well written that I look forward to re-reading it! I actually convinced my local library to borrow it from a university library for me. I enjoyed it so much that I wound up buying my own copy!
Mr. Van Den Berk presented the alchemical, hermetic and esoteric allegories so well that he renewed my interests and inspired me to research some of his ideas on a deeper level. The numerous citations in the book gave me plenty of choices with which to start my own research.
The other reviewer did a pretty thorough job so I will not repeat him, however he did mention that the subject of "illumination" should have been developed further. I felt that the whole "illumination" theme was a given and didn't need to be explained any further by the author. The whole idea of Spiritual Alchemy and the Rosicrucian mind-set centers on individual illumination. There are many paths to illumination, therefore to merely point out one of them might limit the possibilities for some readers. Leaving it open for interpretation forces the serious reader to do some contemplation! I like that!
I am so happy to have discovered this book and can honestly say that it contributed a great deal to MY personal illumination! Thank you Mr. Van Den Berk for this wonderful contribution to society!
Splendid on Mozarts alchemy but how is illumination as such? Feb 26, 2005
Van den Berk is here the forerunner who cuts a path through the thick forest which would otherwise not be viable. Proving anew and definitely that the opera is an 'alchemical' one is what he does, which he is very sure about, and may be proud of. He does so by interpreting the diverse characters, symbols and processes, as well as the totality of them, as illustration of the 'magnum opus', the great work of the alchemists. And this within and from the lives and context not only from the makers of this opera, Mozart and his librettists, members of the 'illuminate' version of Freemasonry. But still more, and this is a really fascinating part of the study, from the history of mythology of which alchemy grew as one branch. So we learn among many other personalities and symbols from Pamina as salt, Tamino as sulphur, and Papageno-Papagena as mercury and hermaphrodite. And not less from the processes of transformation which all these undergo, resulting in the definitive 'chemical' wedding (the sacred marriage), through the phases of nigredo (blackening), albedo (whitening) and rubedo (reddening). Everything is shown in the most convincing details, from classical Greece and old Egypt to the Rosicrucian works of the 16th Century. From Isis and Osiris to Mozarts visit to Pompeji, and the history and meaning of the etchings which accompanied the publication of the opera. With detailed insights into Mozart's membership of Freemasonry, his personal views about what it stood for, and the way this influenced his musical and theatrical creations. With most insightful explanations of 92 very adequate illustrations. So to me indeed this is a monumental work. I add hastily that the book is a pleasure to read, because Van den Berk is a master in letting the reader make the discoveries together with him. Although possibly not every part is to any reader of the same interest, it is clear that one enriches oneself very much by following the author throughout the whole book. Particularly if one is also interested in the evidence which proofs the theses of the author. Van den Berk has a strong intuition and at the same time a thorough feeling for scientific and historical proof, and always lets the later support the former. And be sure the map he sketches does not contradict the innumerable hard facts for one moment! So I have to conclude that this work offers a lot to many people, not the least many suggestions for further studies in the field, and much inspiration for every reader, also those with a more personal interest in the various subjects, themes and topics related to Mozart's Zauberflöte.
I wish this book in the hands of many, and thank the makers of it for their inspiration and knowledge, particularly the author himself through which all this value comes through us.
Now I will continue with some questions which remain to me unsolved. To my opinion the richness of this book cannot be underestimated very much! Although the author is very well aware of many themes there are also aspects which he does not give very much attention. I mean the path of illumination itself. To me the experience or realization of illumination is important as well as the path from and to it. I can refer to illumination in the works of Jacob Boehme which have well influenced the authors which according to Van den Berk also inspired Mozart, particularly the famous Oetinger of whom a book was found in Mozarts library with a very interesting part about music! And I can also refer to illumination in the Buddhist tradition. While I experience the book of Van den Berk as 'scientifically' impressive, why does not deal he with the core itself of his subjects - namely the path from and to illumination - that intensively? Of course it is very likely that he does this indirectly so why not also directly? But let me first acknowledge some other characteristic of this book which has impressed me very much: the author everywhere adds to his conclusions the way he has found them, and this is very inspiring. It tells us we ourselves could also find what we seek, if using our means in the right way. So the book itself is a splendid illustration of going one way, be it only that of detailed 'scientific' mythological and historical research (including important aspects of human psychology). I add another point, which for me touches the core. To me illumination in the Western tradition of alchemy has everything to do with the so called union of the opposites of which the union of the opposite sexes is the most important example, also called 'androgyny' which is an important topic from classical to modern times (see my book on "Androgyny in Christianity, particularly in the works of Jacob Boehme" 1986; extenxive summary in English at http://www1.tip.nl/~t770268/androgsum.html ). As this includes the relation of sexuality and spirituality - the role of the union of the sexes at all levels, even as symbol of spiritual illumination! - it would be important not to forego this tradition and its implications, particularly when the subject is central to it, and to the Zauberflöte it surely is. For example: how is the relation in the opera between sexuality at lower and at higher levels and how has it come through in the course of the reception of the opera?! This is again a core theme Van den Berk's book puts on the scene of our attention, and although he himself does not elaborate upon it very much, it is very important as well and will hopefully be seen by many readers. The relation of sexuality and spirituality is of great importance to the history of the West, not only through the churches, through theology and mysticism, and not only through alternative traditions like Gnosticism and alchemy in which it flourished abundantly, but also in the philosophical presuppositions of Western culture as such. It is not by chance that the theme of the Zauberflöte is a core theme. Whereas it is a great merit of this book of Van den Berk to have proved this with regard to the roots of the Zauberflöte in alchemy and Freemasonry, it would be a great accomplishment if the much broader implications of it - I repeat: a core theme of Western culture - from now on would be elaborated upon more fully. Again: that Van den Berk with his book touches upon such a fundamental theme to our Western culture and spirituality, and so makes possible a more thorough study of the latter, to me is a great advantage and a great merit. It makes even comparisons and discussions with other cultures more near and better possible. Not a small value.