The Corner

Flute Fatigue

Our Liberty Fund colloquium on “Liberty and Responsibility in Mozart’s The Magic Flute” has completed four of the scheduled five sessions, and I believe all 15 of us will make it to the finish line. Everyone is pallid and red-eyed at this point of course, but there have only been a couple of cases of participants actually passing out from exhaustion. In both instances the unconscious person was carried gently to a couch at the back of the room and left to recover, until strong enough to be propelled back to the conference table by having selections from the works of Andrew Lloyd Webber played to him through earphones.

The sheer endurance and intellectual grit on display here is a stirring tribute to the dedication and steadfastness of the U.S. intelligentsia. Even in the furthest extremes of fatigue, we charged fearlessly into such conundrums as the significance of the transition from D-flat to A-flat when Pamina joins in the final trials, or why, after a steady diet of undiluted polytheism through the preceding two and a half hours, the Three Boys suddenly assert that “Selbstmord strafet Gott an dir.”

No stone will be left turned here, readers, rest assured! So long as we have breath in our bodies, Mozart and Schikaneder will withhold no secrets from us!

Uns schreckt kein Tod, als Mann zu handeln,

Den Weg der Tugend forzuwandeln.

Schliesst uns die Schreckenspforten auf,

Wir wagen froh den kühnen Lauf!

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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