Understanding Mozart's "The Magic Flute"

Understanding Mozart's "The Magic Flute"

In this illustrated lecture, Dr. Susan Key, public musicologist for the Pacific Symphony, will guide us through the artistry and themes of Mozart’s most beloved opera.

This lecture will prepare the audience for the concert performance of The Magic Flute at Segerstrom Hall, Thursday, February 22, 2018.


The Magic Flute was first performed in 1791 and remains one of Mozart’s most popular works. It is a fairy tale based with themes of love, imprisonment, transformation, and the quest for wisdom. Mozart used different styles to capture the voices of his characters, such as the bird catcher Papageno and the evil witch, the Queen of the Night. If Mozart is the Shakespeare of opera, this is his Midsummer Night’s Dream and his Tempest.

Susan Key is a public musicologist. She is based at Chapman University, where she teaches in the honors program and coordinates a partnership with the Pacific Symphony. She also works on projects for the Star Spangled Music Foundation and baritone Thomas Hampson’s Song of America initiative. Formerly she was Special Projects Director at the San Francisco Symphony, where she worked on a variety of projects in media and education, including education and web design for the Keeping Score series.

Dr. Key began her career as a high school music teacher before earning a doctorate in historical musicology and teaching at the University of Maryland, the College of William and Mary, and Stanford University. Her publications include articles on Stephen Foster, on John Cage, and on arts education. She has developed public programs for the San Francisco Symphony, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Philharmonic and has served on the boards of the Society for American Music, the Los Angeles Public Library, and the chamber music organization Pacific Serenades. Her current passion is playing old-time fiddle.

Event Details

  • When: Tuesday, February 13, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Humanities Gateway 1010
  • Organizer: Julia Lupton (email)
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