Critical Classics Releases ‘Operas Without a Victim’ Edition of ‘Die Zauberflöte’

By Afton Wooten

(Photo credit: © Nik Schölzel)

Critical Classics has released its “Operas Without a Victim” version of W.A. Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte.”

Critical Classics has spent the last year preparing its edition of Mozart’s “Magic Flute,” which proposes alternatives for problematic passages. The team offers suggestions on how texts and characters could be carefully changed to not remain offensive. No music has been changed. But, for example, Pamina, who is somewhat neglected by the authors at the beginning, is given an additional aria (also by Mozart, but with new lyrics). Monostatos becomes Sarastro’s illegitimate son, and Papagena, who is ridiculed for her age, becomes a strong Amazon.

The initiative’s Berthold Schneider says, “Our aim is not to take away the artistic poignancy of the works – quite the opposite: we want them to be experienced in the same exciting and stimulating way as when they were written. And just as they were back then, without discriminating against or excluding people in the audience.”

Members of the Critical Classics team include conductor Julia Jones, who has conducted “Die Zauberflöte” at the Vienna State Opera and the Royal Opera House in London, Aşkın-Hayat Doğan, who is now regarded as a reference for sensitivity reading in Germany, and the author Hartmut El Kurdi, who has been awarded the German Radio Play Prize for Children several times.

The “Magic Flute” edition by Critical Classics is based on the widely used text of the New Mozart Edition published by “Bärenreiter Verlag” and on the Kurt Soldan piano reduction which was published by “Edition Peters.” There are no costs for the theatres, both the texts are published in the public domain on the “International Music Score Library Project” (IMSLP). But the material is also available for free download on the initiative’s homepage or on the websites of associations such as “Opera Europa” and “Landesmusikrat NRW”. The Landesmusikrat NRW and Critical Classics have also agreed an official partnership.

Critical Classics is next planning editions of Bach’s “St John Passion,” Bizet’s “Carmen,” and “Madama Butterfly” by Giacomo Puccini.