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Dean’s Lecture, 3/6

Originally Posted on admin, March 6, 2009

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Santa Fe 
Dean’s Lecture, 3/6: Mozart's Magic Flute: A Middle Way


WHAT: Dean’s Lecture Series

TITLE: Mozart's Magic Flute: A Middle Way

WHERE: Great Hall, Peterson Student Center, St. John’s College

WHEN: Friday, March 6, 8 p.m.

Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute, a work of his last year of life, was wildly popular when it was first performed and has remained so. It has been spared, over the two-plus centuries of its operatic life, the vicissitudes of reception that many of Mozart’s other operas have endured. Yet the opera has also been a subject of controversy for much of its existence: it has been criticized as a patched-up low comedy and exalted as one of the highest representations of the musical sublime. Allanbrook will discuss the opera in the light of these two drastically opposed opinions, and offer her own reading of the work, which, as the title implies, attempts a position that borrows elements from both extremes.

Wye J. Allanbrook is Professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, where she retired in 2007. She was appointed to the position at Berkeley in 1995 following a year as Ernest Bloch Visiting Professor of Music, in which she delivered the Ernest Bloch Lectures. In the twenty-five years prior, (1969 to 1994) she taught at St. John’s College, Annapolis, known for its rigorous all-required great books curriculum, where, as she says, she “received the best post-graduate education that a faculty member can possibly experience.” She also served as Visiting Professor at the University of North Carolina in 1989.

Allanbrook received a B. A. magna cum laude in Classics from Vassar College in 1964; an M.A. from Stanford in 1965, and her Ph.D. in 1974 (dissertation title “Dance as Expression in Mozart Opera”). She has written extensively on the music of Mozart and Haydn, with particular emphasis on the expressive strategies that animate this repertoire. Her book Rhythmic Gesture in Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni explored the expressive use of social dance rhythms in these two extraordinary opera buffas.

Allanbrook has held fellowships from the NEH, the ACLS, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the University of California, and spent three years in residence at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina. She currently holds an Andrew W. Mellon Emeritus Fellowship supporting research for 2008-2010. An accomplishment of which Allanbrook is particularly proud is her six-year tenure as Chair of the UC Berkeley Music Department, during which she and Music Librarian John Roberts jointly guided the design and construction of the Music Department’s new freestanding music library, the Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library, dedicated in September 2004.

The lecture is free of charge, open to the public, and followed by a question and answer period.