The Magic Flute: Wikis


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The Magic Flute (German Die Zauberflöte, K. 620) is an opera in two acts composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue.


Premiere and reception

The opera was premiered in Vienna on 30 September 1791, at the suburban Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden.[1] Mozart conducted the orchestra,[2] Schikaneder himself played Papageno, while the role of the Queen of the Night was sung by Mozart's sister-in-law Josepha Hofer.

On the reception of the opera, Mozart scholar Maynard Solomon writes:

Although there were no reviews of the first performances, it was immediately evident that Mozart and Schikaneder had achieved a great success, the opera drawing immense crowds and reaching hundreds of performances during the 1790s.[3]

The success of The Magic Flute lifted the spirits of its composer, who had fallen ill while in Prague a few weeks before. Solomon continues:

Mozart's delight is reflected in his last three letters, written to Constanze, who with her sister Sophie was spending the second week of October in Baden. "I have this moment returned from the opera, which was as full as ever," he wrote on 7 October, listing the numbers that had to be encored. "But what always gives me the most pleasure is the silent approval! You can see how this opera is becoming more and more esteemed." … He went to hear his opera almost every night, taking along [friends and] relatives.[3]

The opera celebrated its 100th performance in November 1792. Mozart did not have the pleasure of witnessing this milestone, having died of his illness on 5 December 1791.

Since its premiere, The Magic Flute has always been one of the most beloved works in the operatic repertoire, and is presently the eighth most frequently performed opera in North America.[4]


Emanuel Schikaneder, librettist of Die Zauberflöte, shown performing in the role of Papageno. The object on his back is a birdcage; see below.

The opera was the culmination of a period of increasing involvement by Mozart with Schikaneder's theatrical troupe, which since 1789 had been the resident company at the Theater auf der Wieden. Mozart was a close friend of one of the singer-composers of the troupe, tenor Benedikt Schack (the first Tamino), and had contributed to the compositions of the troupe, which were often collaboratively written. Mozart's participation increased with his contributions to the 1790 collaborative opera Der Stein der Weisen (The Philosopher's Stone), including the duet ("Nun liebes Weibchen," K. 625/592a) and perhaps other passages. Like The Magic Flute, Der Stein der Weisen was a fairy-tale opera and can be considered a kind of precursor; it employed much the same cast in similar roles.[5]

The Magic Flute is noted for its prominent Masonic elements; Schikaneder and Mozart were Masons and lodge brothers (see: Mozart and Freemasonry). The opera is also influenced by Enlightenment philosophy, and can be regarded as an allegory advocating enlightened absolutism. The Queen of the Night represents a dangerous form of obscurantism or, according to some interpreters, contemporary Roman Catholicism.[6] Her antagonist Sarastro symbolises the enlightened sovereign who rules according to principles based on reason, wisdom, and nature. The story itself portrays the education of mankind, progressing from chaos through superstition to rationalistic enlightenment, by means of trial (Tamino) and error (Papageno), ultimately to make "the Earth a heavenly kingdom, and mortals like the gods" ("Dann ist die Erd' ein Himmelreich, und Sterbliche den Göttern gleich." This couplet is sung in the finales to both acts.)

Mozart evidently wrote keeping in mind the skills of the singers intended for the premiere, which included both virtuosi and ordinary comic actors, asked to sing for the occasion.[7] Thus, the vocal lines for Papageno and Monostatos are often stated first in the strings so the singer can find his pitch, and are frequently doubled by instruments. In contrast, Mozart's sister-in-law Josepha Hofer, who premiered the role of the Queen of the Night, evidently needed little such help: this role is famous for its difficulty. In ensembles, Mozart skillfully combined voices of different ability levels.

A particularly demanding aria is the Queen of the Night's "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" ("The vengeance of Hell boils in my heart"), which reaches a high F6 (see Scientific pitch notation), rare in opera. At the low end, the part of Sarastro includes a conspicuous F in a few locations.

While the female roles in the opera are assigned to different voice types, the playbill for the premiere performance referred to all of the female singers as "sopranos". The casting of the roles relies on the actual pitch range of the part.[8]


Playbill for the premiere, September 30, 1791
Role Voice type Premiere cast, 30 September 1791
(Conductor: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
Tamino tenor Benedikt Schack
Papageno baritone Emanuel Schikaneder
Pamina soprano Anna Gottlieb
The Queen of the Night[9] soprano Josepha Hofer
Sarastro bass Franz Xaver Gerl
Three ladies 2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano Mlle Klöpfer, Mlle Hofmann, Mme Elisab[e]th Schack
Monostatos tenor Johann Joseph Nouseul
Three boys treble, alto, mezzo-soprano Anna Schikaneder; Anselm Handelgruber; Franz Anton Maurer
Speaker of the temple bass-baritone Herr Winter
Three priests tenor, 2 basses Johann Michael Kistler, Urban Schikaneder, Herr Moll
Papagena soprano Barbara Gerl
Two armored men tenor, bass Johann Michael Kistler, Herr Moll
Three slaves 2 tenors, bass Karl Ludwig Giesecke, Herr Frasel, Herr Starke
Priests, women, people, slaves, chorus

The names of the performers at the premiere are taken from a preserved playbill for this performance (at right), which does not give full names; "Herr" = Mr., "Mme" = Madame, Mrs., "Mlle" = Mademoiselle, Miss.[10]

These singers perform with an orchestra consisting of two flutes (one doubling on piccolo), two oboes, two clarinets (doubling basset horns), two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, three trombones (alto, tenor, and bass), timpani and strings. The work also requires a four-part chorus for several numbers (notably the finales of each act); and a glockenspiel to perform the music of Papageno's magic bells.



Act 1

Scene 1

After the Overture, we are introduced to Tamino, a handsome prince who is lost in a distant land and is being pursued by a serpent (Quartet: "Zu Hilfe! Zu Hilfe!") . He faints from fatigue and three ladies, attendants of the Queen of the Night appear and kill the serpent. They all fall in love with the prince and each plans to be alone with him. After arguing, they decide that it is best that they all leave together.

Tamino recovers to see before him Papageno, arrayed entirely in the plumage of birds, who sings of his job as a birdcatcher and the fact that he is longing for a wife, or, at least, a girlfriend (Aria: "Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja"). Papageno jokes with Tamino but says that he brings the birds that he catches to the Queen of the Night's servants, who give him food and drink in return. Papageno also claims that he has saved Tamino and strangled the serpent with his bare hands. At this moment, the three ladies appear and punish his lie by paying for his birds with a stone instead of food, water instead of wine and placing a padlock over his mouth. They tell Tamino that they were responsible for saving him. He deeply appreciates them and they show to the prince a miniature of a young maiden, Pamina, with whom he falls instantly in love (Aria: "Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön" / "This image is enchantingly lovely, Like no eye has ever beheld!").

The arrival of the Queen of the Night. Stage set by Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781–1841) for an 1815 production

The Queen of the Night now appears, demanding that Tamino free her daughter, the original of the picture, from the hands of Sarastro, promising that he can marry Pamina in return. (Recitative and aria: "O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn" / "Oh, tremble not, my dear son! You are innocent, wise, pious"). The ladies give Tamino a magic flute that can change men's hearts, remove the padlock from Papageno, and present him with a chime of bells to protect him. Papageno accompanies Tamino, and they set forth, guided by the three ladies (Quintet: "Hm hm hm hm").

Scene 2: A room in Sarastro's palace

Pamina is dragged in by Sarastro's servant Monostatos. (Trio: "Du feines Täubchen, nun herein!") Papageno, sent ahead by Tamino to help find Pamina, arrives. Monostatos and Papageno are each terrified by the other's strange appearance and flee the stage. But Papageno soon returns and announces to Pamina that her mother has sent Tamino to her aid. Pamina rejoices to hear that Tamino is in love with her, and then offers sympathy and hope to Papageno, who longs for a Papagena to love. Together they sing an ode to love (Duet: "Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen"), then depart.

Scene 3: Grove and entrance to the temples

The three boys lead in the prince. As Tamino reaches the temple, he is denied entrance at the Gates of Nature and Reason, by invisible voices singing "Go back!". But when he tries the Gate of Wisdom, a priest appears and gradually convinces him that Sarastro is benevolent, not evil, and that women's opinions should not be taken seriously. After the priest leaves him, Tamino plays his magic flute in hopes of summoning Pamina and Papageno. The tones of his magical instrument summon first a group of magically tamed beasts, then the sound of Papageno's pipes. Ecstatic at the thought of meeting Pamina, Tamino hurries off.

Papageno appears with Pamina, following the distant sound of Tamino's flute. The two are suddenly apprehended by Monostatos and his slaves. Papageno then works an enchantment on them with his magic bells, and they dance, blissfully and involuntarily, off the stage.

Papageno now hears the approach of Sarastro and his large retinue. He is frightened and asks Pamina what they should say. She answers that they must tell the truth. Sarastro and his followers enter.

Sarastro conducts an impromptu judicial proceeding. Pamina falls at his feet and confesses that she was trying to escape because Monostatos had demanded her love. Sarastro receives her kindly and tells her that he will not force her inclinations, but cannot give her freedom nor return her to her mother, because she must be guided by a man.

Monostatos then enters with Tamino captive. The two lovers see one another for the first time and instantly embrace, causing indignation among Sarastro's followers. Monostatos tries to point the finger of blame at Tamino. Sarastro, however, punishes Monostatos for his lustful intentions toward Pamina, and leads Tamino and Papageno into the temple of ordeal. The Brotherhood send them off-screen in a glorious chorus.

Act 2

Scene 4: A grove of palms

The council of priests, headed by Sarastro, enters to the sound of a solemn march. They determine that Tamino shall possess Pamina, and succeed Sarastro as leader, if he succeeds in passing through the ordeal. Sarastro explains that the Queen of the Night has attempted to bewilder the people with superstition and groundless fears. He then sings a prayer to the gods Isis and Osiris, asking them to protect Tamino and Pamina and to take them into their heavenly dwelling place should they die in the course of their trials ("O Isis und Osiris").

Scene 5: The courtyard of the temple of Ordeal

Tamino and Papageno are led into the temple. Tamino is cautioned that this is his last chance to turn back, but he states that he will undergo every trial to win his Pamina. Papageno declines the trials at first, saying that he doesn't care much about wisdom, and only wants food, wine, and a pretty woman. The priest tells Papageno that Sarastro may have a woman for him if he undergoes the trials, and that she is called Papagena. Reluctantly, Papageno agrees to undergo the trials.

The first test is that Tamino and Papageno shall remain silent under the temptation of women. (Duet, Speaker and Priest) The three ladies appear, and tempt them to speak. (Quintet: "Wie, wie, wie") Papageno cannot resist answering the ladies, but Tamino remains aloof, speaking only to Papageno, and then only to tell him to shut up. Seeing that Tamino will not speak to them, the ladies withdraw.

One of the priests scolds Papageno for his weakness, and tells him that he will never know the enlightened bliss of the gods. Papageno replies that there are a great many people in the world like himself, unenlightened but happy, and asks why he must undergo tests if Sarastro already has a woman selected for him. The priest says that it is the only way.

Scene 6: A garden, Pamina asleep

Monostatos approaches and gazes upon Pamina with rapture. (Aria: "Alles fühlt der Liebe Freuden") He is about to kiss her sleeping face, when the Queen of the Night appears. She wakes Pamina and gives her a dagger, ordering her to kill Sarastro with it. (Aria: "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" / "Hell's vengeance boileth in mine heart"). After she leaves, Monostatos tries to force Pamina's love by threatening to reveal the murder-plot, but Sarastro enters and drives him off. Sarastro forgives and comforts Pamina (Aria: "In diesen heil'gen Hallen").

Scene 7: A hall in the temple of Ordeal

Tamino and Papageno must again suffer the test of silence. Pamina enters and tries to speak with Tamino. Since Tamino refuses to answer, Pamina believes he no longer loves her. (Aria: "Ach, ich fühl's, es ist verschwunden")

Scene 8: The pyramids

The Priests of the Temple celebrate Tamino's successes so far, and predict that he will succeed and become worthy of their order (Chorus: "O Isis und Osiris"). Sarastro parts Pamina and Tamino. (Trio: Sarastro, Pamina, Tamino – "Soll ich dich, Teurer, nicht mehr sehn?") Papageno plays his magic bells and sings a ditty about his desire for a wife. (Aria, Papageno: "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen"). An elderly woman appears to him and demands that he pledge engagement to her, warning that if he doesn't, he will remain alone forever. Reluctantly, Papageno promises to love her faithfully. She immediately transforms into the young and pretty Papagena. As Papageno rushes to embrace her, however, the priests drive her away with thunder and lightning.

Scene 9: An open country

Tamino and Pamina undergo their final trial; watercolor by Max Slevogt (1868–1932)

The three boys see Pamina attempting to commit suicide because she believes Tamino has abandoned her. They restrain her and take away her dagger, promising that she will see him soon. (Quartet: "Bald prangt, den Morgen zu verkünden").

Scene 10: A hall or room with two doors: one leading to a chamber of trial by water and the other to a cavern of fire.

Two men in armor lead Tamino onstage. They recite, in unison, one of the formal creeds of the god Isis, promising enlightenment to those who successfully overcome the fear of death ("Der, welcher wandert diese Strasse voll Beschwerden"). This recitation takes the musical form of a Baroque chorale prelude, and is preceded by another Baroque form: a fugue. Tamino declares he is ready to be tested, but Pamina, offstage, calls for him to wait for her. The men in armor assure Tamino that the trial by silence is over and he is now allowed to speak with her. She enters, and exchanges loving words with Tamino ("Tamino mein, o welch ein Glück!"). United in harmony, they enter the trial-caverns together. Protected by the music of the magic flute, they pass unscathed through fire and water. Offstage, the priests hail their triumph.

Papageno, having given up hope of winning Papagena, wishes to hang himself (Aria/Quartet: "Papagena! Papagena! Papagena!"), but at the last minute the three boys appear and remind him that he should use his magic bells to summon her, instead. Papagena reenters, and the happy couple is united, stuttering at first ("pa … pa … pa") in astonishment (Duet: "Papageno! Papagena!").[11]

The traitorous Monostatos appears with the Queen of the Night and her ladies to destroy the temple ("Nur stille, stille"), but they are magically cast out into eternal night.

The scene now changes to the entrance of the chief temple, where Sarastro bids the young lovers welcome and unites them. The final chorus sings the praises of Tamino and Pamina in enduring their trials and gives thanks to the gods.

[The opera may sometimes be divided into three acts in which case, the third act typically begins with scene 8]

Noted arias

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  • "Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja" (The birdcatcher am I) — Papageno in Act I, Scene I
  • "O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn" (Oh, tremble not, my beloved son) — The Queen of the Night in Act I, Scene I
  • "Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön" (This image is enchantingly beautiful) — Tamino in Act I, Scene I
  • "Wie stark ist nicht dein Zauberton" (How strong is not thy magic tone) — Tamino in the Finale of Act I
  • "O Isis und Osiris" (O Isis and Osiris) — Sarastro in Act II, Scene I
  • "Alles fühlt der Liebe Freuden" (All feel the joys of love) — Monostatos in Act II, Scene III
  • "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" (Hell's vengeance boileth in mine heart) — The Queen of the Night in Act II, Scene III
  • "In diesen heil'gen Hallen" (Within these sacred halls) — Sarastro in Act II, Scene III
  • "Ach, ich fühl's, es ist verschwunden" (Ah, I feel it, it is vanished) — Pamina in Act II, Scene IV
  • "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen" (A girl or a woman) — Papageno in Act II, Scene V

Film versions

Works inspired by The Magic Flute


  • Eduardo Paolozzi, a screenprint illustrating the arrival of “Queen of the Night″ in Act II, Magic Flute II, 1994.



  • John Updike, A children's book based on The Magic Flute, 1962.
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley, Night's Daughter, a novel based on The Magic Flute, 1985. It sets the story in an Atlantis-like world with human-animal hybrid creatures. Bradley enthusiastically agrees with Bergman that Sarastro is Pamina's father.
  • Barbara Trapido, Temples of Delight, 1990. A novel which, though set in contemporary England, takes its structure very loosely from The Magic Flute. Characters in the novel are analogous to Pamina, Tamino, Papageno and Sarastro although the novel strays heavily from the original plot with the 'Pamina' character ultimately rejecting 'Tamino' in favour of a romantic relationship with 'Sarastro'.
  • Cameron Dokey, Sunlight and Shadow, (part of the Once Upon A Time series), 2004, a retelling of The Magic Flute for teen readers; Dokey's novel also states that Sarastro is Pamina's father.
  • Yoshitaka Amano, Mateki: The Magic Flute, an adaption of the opera illustrated by himself and retold using classic Japanese elements.
  • Anne Gatti, The Magic Flute, an adaptation for young readers in picture-book form with illustrations by Peter Malone.


  • Arctic Magic Flute is an English-language adaptation of the opera, set in rural Alaska.
  • Pamina Devi is the Cambodian classical dance adaptation of The Magic Flute. However, it is not entirely based on the same plot and includes elements foreign to the original.
  • Pioneering guitarist and composer Fernando Sor transcribed "Six Airs from The Magic Flute", Op. 19, for solo guitar around 1820–1821.
  • Beethoven wrote a series of variations on Pamina & Papageno's duet for violin, cello, and piano, which has been transcribed for organ. As it is an ode to the joys of married life, it is often played at weddings.
  • Franz Lehár's "Mozartiana Waltz" is based on themes from The Magic Flute and Don Giovanni.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ The Magic Flute
  2. ^ This is known from testimony by Ignaz von Seyfried (1776–1841), a composer who later (1798) became the musical director at the same theater. According to Seyfried's memories (which he published in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, vol. 12, 5 June 1840, p. 184), "[Mozart] personally directed the premiere there on 30 September 1791, at which Süßmayr, the faithful Pylades, sat to his right, diligently turning the pages of the score." The description implies that Mozart was seated at a keyboard instrument, playing along with the orchestra, rather than standing on a podium with a baton; this was fairly standard practice for conductors in Mozart's time. (Source: Buch 2005)
  3. ^ a b Solomon (1995), 487
  4. ^ OPERA America's "Quick Facts" list of most frequently produced operas in the 2007/2008 season
  5. ^ Source for this paragraph: Buch (1997)
  6. ^ Condee, Newcomb. "Brother Mozart and The Magic Flute". Retrieved 18 December 2009. 
  7. ^ For the case of Monostatos (Johann Joseph Nouseul) see Deutsch 1965, 408
  8. ^ For relevant discussion see Boldrey and Caldwell (1995).
  9. ^ The Queen is sometimes referred to by the name "Astrifiammante", which evidently comes from an Italian translation, such as this one, of the adjective "sternflammende" ("star-blazing") in the original libretto.
  10. ^ Playbill information taken from the Website Stanford University, which cites Branscombe 1991.
  11. ^ For the origin of this duet, see Emanuel Schikaneder.
  12. ^ BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Arts | Branagh to make Mozart opera film


  • Boldney, Richard and Robert Caldwell (1994) "Voice Categories," in Richard Boldrey, Guide to Operatic Roles & Arias. Dallas: Pst Inc., ISBN 1877761648
  • Branscombe, Peter (1991) Die Zauberflöte, Cambridge Opera Handbooks series, Cambridge University Press.
  • Buch, David J. (1997) "Mozart and the Theater auf der Wieden: New attributions and perspectives," Cambridge Opera Journal 9: 195–232.
  • Buch, David J. (2005) "Three posthumous reports concerning Mozart in his late Viennese years," Eighteenth-Century Music 2:125–129.
  • Buch, David J.:"Die Zauberflöte, Masonic Opera, and Other Fairy Tales", Acta Musicologica 76, (Kassel etc.: Bärenreiter 2004), 2:193–219, debunking most of the alleged masonic allusions.
  • Chailley, Jacques (1992) The Magic Flute Unveiled: Esoteric Symbolism in Mozart's Masonic Opera, an analysis of masonic and esoteric symbolism of the opera.
  • Deutsch, Otto Erich (1965) Mozart: A Documentary Biography. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
  • Melitz, Leo (1921) The Opera Goer's Complete Guide, source for plot summary given here.
  • Solomon, Maynard (1995) Mozart: A Life. New York: Harper Perennial
  • An affordable version of the score is issued by Dover Publications (1985), which reprints an out-of-copyright version from C. F. Peters publishers.

External links

Simple English

The Magic Flute (German: Die Zauberflöte, K. 620) is an opera in two acts composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The story has traditional fairy tale themes plus Masonic elements. Its text (libretto) was written by Emanuel Schikaneder, who sang the role of Papageno in the opera's first (premiere) performance. The style of the opera is called Singspiel, a German term that means it combines singing and spoken text.


The history of its composition

The Magic Flute was not the last opera that Mozart wrote. He wrote La Clemenza di Tito afterwards, but this was first performed before The Magic Flute.

Schikaneder had a group of actors and singers who performed operas in the Singspiel tradition. He had written the words for The Magic Flute and asked Mozart to write the music. It was first performed on 30 September 1791. It quickly became very popular. There were 20 performances of it in Vienna in the first month and Schikaneder had given over 200 performances of it by 1800 (Mozart died on 5 December 1791).


Role voice
Tamino tenor
Papageno baritone
Pamina soprano
The Queen of the Night coloratura soprano
Sarastro bass
Three ladies 2 sopranos and a mezzo-soprano
Monostatos tenor
Three Boys (or genii) treble , alto and mezzo-soprano
Speaker of the temple bass
Two priests tenor and bass
Papagena soprano
Two armored men tenor and bass
Priests, women, people, slaves - chorus

The story of the opera

Act One

Prince Tamino has got lost in the forest and now finds himself in a country which is ruled by the Queen of the Night. A huge monster chases him and he is very frightened. He falls down in a faint. Three ladies who work for the Queen of the Night come and kill the monster. Then they see the handsome prince and they argue about which one of them will stay to look after him.

The three ladies go off and Papageno enters. Papageno is a birdcatcher whose job is to catch birds for the Queen of the Night. He is a happy, simple young man. Tamino wakes up, sees him and asks him who he is. Papageno introduces himself. He has not noticed the dead monster. Tamino sees that the monster is dead and asks him who killed it. Papageno suddenly notices it and then decides to pretend that he killed it himself. The three ladies hear what he says and they come and punish him by giving him a stone instead of bread and wine, and by padlocking his mouth so that he cannot speak. Then they give Tamino a portrait of Princess Pamina. She is the daughter of the Queen of the Night. They tell him that Pamina has been captured by an evil man called Sarastro. In fact, Sarastro is a good man, and he is looking after Pamina because her mother, the Queen of the Night, is evil. The prince does not know this. He is already in love with the princess just from looking at her picture, and decides to go and rescue her.

The three ladies give the Prince a magic flute which will protect him if he finds himself in danger. They promise Papageno that he, too, will find a lovely wife for himself if he goes with Tamino. They take off his padlock and give him a set of magic bells which will help him if he is in danger. They are told that three lovely boys will show them the way.

In the next scene we see Princess Pamina who is being guarded by a cruel Moor called Monostatos. He has tied the princess up. Papageno arrives and both men are frightened of one another. Monostatos runs away, Papageno unties the rope around the princess and tells her about the prince who is on his way to rescue her.

In the next scene Tamino finds himself in a holy place. The three boys have guided him there. They tell him he must be patient and silent. He meets a priest who tells him he must not think that Sarastro is cruel. He tells him that Pamina is alive. Tamino is very happy to hear this, takes his flute and plays. The animals from the forest come round him. Pamina and Papagena are caught by Monostatos. He is about to tie them up, but Papageno plays his magic bells and, when they hear the music, Monostatos and all the animals cannot help dancing and they disappear, still dancing. Sarastro enters. He tells Pamina once more that she must stay with him to learn how to live a good, virtuous life. She must not become evil like her mother. Monostatos enters with Tamino whom he has caught. Tamino and Pamina see one another and embrace. Sarastro says that Monostatos must have a beating. He says that Tamino and Pamina cannot have one another yet. First they will have to go to the temple and go through some trials to show that they are good.

Act Two

Sarastro explains to the priests that Tamino and Pamina will have to go through the trials to show that they are worthy of one another. If they can do this then they will be able to defeat the evil power of the Queen of the Night.

Tamino and Papageno go through the trials together. Tamino remains calm and brave. Papageno is frightened and finds it difficult to keep quiet, but he continues because he has been promised that a girl called Papagena will be waiting for him.

In the first trial the Three Ladies try to make them think that the dark place they are in will lead them to death. In the second trial they see Monostatos about to rape Pamina. The Queen of the Night explains why she wants power. She says that Tamino and Pamina will be cursed unless Sarastro is killed. Tamino realizes that this is all part of the trial and he must not do anything. Papageno is given food and drink by Papagena who is disguised as an old lady. Tamino plays his flute. Pamina appears but turns his back on him. The Queen of the Night sings a very famous song in this section. It is famous because it reaches the highest ranges of a female voice.

Tamino and Pamina have to go through the last trial together. Papagena enters and dances, then, when Papageno promises to be true, she throws off her disguise and disappears. Pamina thinks her mother is going to use her dagger, but at the last moment the boys save her and take her to Tamino. Tamino plays the flute as they go together through fire and water. The chorus sing in triumph.

Papageno cannot call Papagena back with his shepherd pipe. The three boys remind him about his magic bells. He plays them and Papagena appears. They are united.

In the last scene Monostatos and the Queen of the Night enter to do battle, but they are defeated. Good triumphs over evil.

Masonic ideas in the opera

Mozart belonged to a group of Freemasons. The Magic Flute is full of Masonic symbols. For example: the number three is an important number in masonry and there are lot of things in the opera that happen in threes: there are three long chords at the beginning of overture, and the three chords appear again in the scene in the temple. Even the key is E flat major which has a key signature of three flats. There are three ladies, three young boys and three trials. The scenery used in the early productions make it look as if the story comes from Egypt or somewhere in the East. Mozart and Schickaneder meant this to have a Masonic meaning. The trials are similar to the rituals in Masonic ceremonies.

Film versions


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