It's one of the most familiar stories in fantasy: someone from our world stumbles on a gateway to a world entirely other — usually magical, sometimes dangerous, and always ripe for a great adventure. But despite the iconic image of a paradise just beyond the doorway, the portal fantasy is often, at heart, a cynical work. After all, some of folkore's most notable archetypes were supernatural threats who crossed from their world to ours to beleaguer us.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. In Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute," Tamino and Pamina can't get married unless brave Tamino passes three tests or trials. At a performance on Lake Constance in Austria this week, the trials by silence and fire were no sweat but water turned out to be a bit trickier. As a gondola carrying three characters approached the floating stage it capsized, tossing the three into the lake's shallow waters. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.