- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Singspiel in two acts. 1791.
- Libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder.
- First performance at the Theater auf der Wieden, Vienna, on 30th September 1791.
|Sarastro, priest of the sun ||bass|
|Tamino, a Javanese prince ||tenor|
|Sprecher (Speaker), an elderly priest ||speaking part|
|First Priest ||speaking part|
|Second Priest ||tenor|
|Third Priest ||bass|
|Queen of the Night ||coloratura soprano|
|Pamina, her daughter ||soprano|
|Three Ladies, in the service of the Queen ||two sopranos & mezzo-soprano|
|Three Boys ||trebles or sopranos|
|Monostatos, a Moor ||tenor|
|Papageno, a bird-catcher ||baritone|
|Two Men in Armour ||tenor & bass|
|Three Slaves ||speaking parts|
Tamino tries to escape from a great serpent that is pursuing him. He faints and the Three Ladies
dispose of the serpent, vying to stay behind and watch over him, while the others tell the Queen of
what has happened. They leave and the bird-catcher Papageno makes his entrance, claiming, when
Tamino comes to his senses, to have killed the serpent. The Ladies return and punish Papageno's
lies by putting a padlock on his mouth. They give Tamino a portrait of a beautiful girl, by which he
is immediately fascinated. This is Pamina, abducted, he is told, by a wicked magician. The Queen
of the Night makes her terrifying appearance, and tells Tamino that he must rescue Pamina, her
daughter. The Ladies unlock Papageno's mouth and give Tamino a magic flute and Papageno silver
bells, protection in their quest. In Sarastro's palace, Pamina has escaped but been caught again by
Monostatos. Papageno and Monostatos confront each other, to their mutual terror. Papageno frees
Pamina. Tamino, meanwhile, is confronted by three temples and, rebuffed at two of the temple
doors, is questioned by the Speaker, an old priest from the Temple of Wisdom, who assures him that
he will be re-united with Pamina. He plays his magic flute, to which animals emerge dancing.
Papageno, captured by Monostatos, plays his bells, setting Monostatos and his slaves dancing and
allowing their escape. The act ends with the entry of Sarastro and his priests, a prelude to the
purification by ordeal of Tamino. The second act brings the ordeals through which Tamino, and to
a limited extent Papageno, will pass. The first is of silence. Food is brought by the Three Boys, but
Pamina's entrance has to be greeted in silence, to her distress. The Boys later prevent her killing
herself with her mother's dagger. Tamino passes through the ordeals of fire and water, protected by
the magic flute. Papageno has been tantalised by the occasional appearance of an old woman,
claiming to be his bride. He is about to kill himself, when relief comes, through the Three Boys,
when he makes use of the magic bells to bring a transformed young Papagena to his side.
Monostatos and the Three Ladies, with their Queen, are still plotting against Sarastro, but are finally
defeated by the power of light, with Tamino and Pamina now together in enlightenment.
The last of Mozart's operas to be staged in his lifetime, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) makes
considerable use of masonic ritual and ideas. These are clear from the beginning of the overture,
with its solemn ritual chords and use of ceremonial trombones. The opera that follows is of
remarkable variety, mixing the comic and the heroic, the first found in Papageno, with his first
entry, Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja (I am the bird-catcher) and his mixture of cowardice and peasant
common sense, a stock character in contemporary German comedy. The heroic is represented by
Tamino, in love at first sight with the portrait of Pamina in his Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön
(This picture is enchantingly beautiful). The Queen of the Night establishes her full coloratura
power in her first appearance, O zittre nicht (O tremble not) and her vitriolic later Der Hölle Rache
(Hell's vengeance). This is in contrast to the obverse character, Sarastro, with his calm and wise
magnanimity, shown in its profundity in O Isis und Osiris (O Isis and Osiris) and In diesen heil'gen
Hallen (In these sacred halls). Pamina's duet with Papageno on the happiness of love, Bei Männern
welche Liebe fühlen (Those who feel love), won immediate popularity with audiences. Her own
anguish is expressed in Ach, ich fühl's (Ah, I feel it has vanished), when greeted by Tamino’s
silence. There is much else that must be familiar in a score of prodigal invention.