Posted by: rbbadger | October 2, 2009

Vengeance Aria

Die Zauberflöte, K.V. 620 is one of Mozart’s most popular works.  It was originally composed in German and was performed in a theater run by his friend Emmanuel Schickaneder.  It proved to be enormously popular, not just with the ordinary people, but with composers such as Antonio Salieri as well.  In fact, a couple of months before his death, Mozart took Salieri to see this opera.  Salieri and his mistress proclaimed it utterly marvelous and were greatly captivated by it. 

One of the most famous arias in this opera is “Die Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” (Hell’s Vengenace Boils in My Heart).  Earlier in the opera, the beautiful Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night, has been kidnapped and is being held in the palace of the ruler Sarastro.  Later on, the Queen of the Night shows up and gives her daughter a dagger which she demands her to use on the ruler Sarastro.  Among the beautiful music and vocal fireworks, the Queen of the Night promises to eternally disown and eternally reject her daughter if she doesn’t kill Sarastro.  In the part with the some of the greatest vocal fireworks, the Queen of the Night sings “Fühlt nicht durch dich Sarastro Todesschmerzen, So bist du meine Tochter nimmermehr” or “if Sarastro does not, through you, feel the pain of death, you will no longer be my daughter”. 

It was first performed in 1791, that fateful year in which Mozart was to die.  A few months after the premiere, Mozart died at his home in Vienna on December 5, 1791, most likely from a streptococcal infection  which ultimately attacked his kidneys.  We perhaps do not realise just how far medical science has come.  With a just a shot of penicillin, Franz Schubert might have gone on to live a longer life.  Schubert, who died in 1828, caught syphillis in 1822.  At the time, mercury was a common treatment for syphillis!  It is possible that Schubert, who died at the young age of 31, might have died of mercury poisoning.  Likewise, Mozart might have lived longer had antibiotics been available to him.  Some doctors are of the opinion that Mozart’s symptoms might have been aggravated by antimony poisoning.  Mozart had a predeliction for taking  the patent medicines of the day, some of which contained high levels of antimony.  The 18th and 19th centuries were rough indeed.  We probably cannot fully understand just how rough they were.  Of Mozart’s six children, only two survived to adulthood.  Likewise, Schubert was one of the fourteen children born to Franz Theodor Schubert and Elisabeth Vietz, of whom only five made it adulthood.   



  1. Wow vocal fireworks was the word for that! Amazing voice!

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