Long before the advent of surtitles in the opera house, success across Europe of new dramatic works depended on their plots being understood by local audiences. Such was the case for the German singspiel that is Mozart’s 'Die Zauberflöte', and when it was introduced to in Paris in 1801 it was adapted and re-titled 'Les Mystères d’Isis': this is the opera which Le Concert Spirituel and the Flemish Radio Choir present here with Diego Fasolis conducting the ensembles in place of the then indisposed Hervé Niquet.
Little of Mozart’s operatic music was known at that time in Paris and any production for the Opéra needed to include recitatives, ballets, no théâtre parlé and to be performable by the standing company. Hence, arranger Ludwig Wenzel Lachnith and librettist Étienne Morel de Chédeville set to the task of adapting 'The Magic Flute'. What Morel came up with respects the general outlines of Schickaneder’s libretto, although most of the characters are renamed. Musically-speaking, this is a pasticcio: whilst much of the original music was retained there are interpolations from others of Mozart’s operas.
The production for this recording is another of the Palazzetto Bru Zane’s sterling efforts at recreating music from the 19th century in France: in the booklet, Alexandre Dratwicki and Étienne Jardin take us through the genesis and success of 'Les Mystères d’Isis'. That this opera proved to be such a success in Paris is in part due to the Egyptomania then sweeping through the country; what remains today is the glory of Mozart’s music as presented to Parisian audiences in Napoleonic France.
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus: Les Mystères d’Isis, Paris, 1801