First performance: 30 September 1791, Freihaustheater auf der Wieden (Vienna) Libretto: Emanuel Schikaneder Music: W.A. Mozart Cast (in order of vocal appearance): Tamino, tenor (Benedikt Schack) First Lady, soprano (Mlle Klöpfer) Second Lady, soprano (Mlle Hofmann) Third Lady, soprano (Mme Elisabth Schack) Papageno, bass (Emanuel Schikaneder) The Queen of the Night, soprano (Josepha Hofer) Three Slaves, speaking roles (Herr Gieseke; Herr Wilhelm Frasel; Herr Starke) Monostatos, tenor (Johann Joseph Nouseul) Pamina, soprano (Anna Gottlieb) Three Boys, trebles (Anna Schikaneder; Anselm Handelgruber; Franz Anton Maurer) An Old Priest (the Speaker), Herr Winter Sarastro, bass (Franz Xaver Gerl) First Priest, bass (Urban Schikaneder) Second Priest, tenor (Johann Michael Kistler) Third Priest, speaking role (Herr Moll) And Old Woman (Papagena), soprano (Barbara Gerl) First Man in Armor, tenor (Johann Michael Kistler) Second Man in Armor, bass (Herr Moll) Priests, slaves and attendants(source for world premiere cast listed in parentheses, above: Peter Branscombe, Die Zauberflöte, from the Cambridge Opera Handbooks series, Cambridge University Press, 1991; based on the actual first performance handbill, which does not list some minor roles.)
Tamino, a young prince lost in an unknown land, enters, running for his life (Zu Hilfe! Zu Hilfe!). He is pursued by a cunning snake. Fearing he is about to become its victim, he invokes the mercy of the gods, and faints. Three veiled maidens appear. They strike at the snake with their spears, killing the animal (Stirb, Ungeheu'r, durch unsre Macht!). It is the First Lady who initially notices how sweet and handsome the young man is. The Second and Third Ladies quickly echo her thoughts, as all three dream of being in love with this youth (Würd' ich mein Herz der Liebe weih'n). Rapture, however, quickly turns to competition, as each Lady wants the other two to depart to inform their Queen of the youth's presence, thereby leaving the third alone with the handsome young man (So geht und sagt es ihr!). Since none of the three are willing to leave so that one may be alone with the youth, they all depart. Tamino awakens to find the snake dead at his feet, but no one else around. "Is it my imagination," he wonders to himself, "that I am still alive? Or has a higher power rescued me?"
In the distance, heralding the approach of a strangely befeathered man, the sound of panpipes is heard. Tamino hides. Papageno, who earns his keep by catching birds for the Queen of the Night, is dressed very like a bird. But birds are not the only thing Papageno would like to catch - if only he could catch himself a wife! (Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja).
As Papageno is about to leave, Tamino calls out to him. Tamino tells the humble birdcatcher that he is a Prince, whose father rules over many lands and people. Papageno is surprised to hear that there are lands beyond these and people beyond the mountains! He wonders if these unknown people would be interested in buying his birds. Tamino asks about the country they are in, but Papageno can only say that it is a country between mountains and valleys. In explaining that he knows nothing of his parents, except that an old, cheerful man bred and fed him and that his mother was in the service of the Star-Blazing Queen of the Night, Papageno stirs Tamino's memory. "Could this be the same mighty Queen my father has spoken of?" Tamino asks if Papageno has ever seen this Star-Blazing Queen of the Night. But this question only rouses the birdcatcher's curiosity and suspicion. No one has ever seen the Star-Blazing Queen! What human eye can see through her black veil? Tamino wonders how he could have strayed into the realm of the Queen of the Night, and who - or what - the character standing in front of him is. By the feathers that cover him, Tamino would think him... A BIRD! Papageno is aghast at the thought. He is frightened of the stranger, but hopes to frighten Tamino away by pretending that he is a man of great strength. Upon hearing these words, Tamino assumes it was Papageno and his giant's strength that rescued him from the poisonous snake. This news frightens Papageno even more. "Is it dead or alive?" he asks. Tamino assumes this attitude is to deflect his thanks for saving his life. But he is curious: how could Papageno kill the monster without any weapons? "I don't need any - I strangled it with my bare hands!" boasts Papageno. Suddenly, from the darkness beyond the two men, comes the admonishing whisper of his name: PAPAGENO! The three Ladies have overheard him and are not pleased by what they have heard. Tamino wants to know who the women are, but Papageno merely explains that he doesn't know much, other than that they bring him wine, sugarbread and sweet figs in exchange for his birds. Tamino says he assumes they are beautiful. But when Papageno confesses that he doubts it, otherwise why would they hide their faces behind veils, he hears yet again his name whispered out: PAPAGENO! In trying to placate them, he insults them again. They appear, not with wine, sweetbread and figs in exchange for his birds, but with water, a stone, and a padlock for his chattering mouth! The Ladies get Papageno to confess that he indeed did not save the youth from the snake. The Third Lady matter-of-factly states that they killed the snake, and they present Tamino with a portrait of the Queen's daughter. They promise that if he is not indifferent to the portrait, good fortune, honor, and fame will be his. They depart, laughing at Papageno, who, with his mouth still bound by a padlock, cannot return their jibes.
Tamino is very much taken with the portrait (Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön), calling the young woman bewitchingly beautiful. He is completely captivated. "Your thoughts have been heard by our Queen," the Ladies tell him upon their return. They vie with each other to tell him the story of the abduction of Pamina - the young lady of the portrait - by an evil demon. On a fine May day, Pamina sat alone in a cypress wood, her favorite place, where she was abducted by an evil-hearted man who has power to change himself into any guise. She was taken to his dwelling, a magnificent and carefully guarded palace, which lies nearby, in a charming valley. When Tamino shows himself more than willing to rescue Pamina, thunder is heard, heralding the arrival of the Queen, herself.
Scene 6: The mountains divide, revealing the Queen of the Night, surrounded by the heavens.
Telling Tamino not to be frightened (O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn!), she pours out the story of her suffering (Zum Leiden bin ich auserkoren). Her deepest regret is that she was too weak to help her daughter, she could only stand by and listen to Pamina's cries for help. If he is successful in Pamina's rescue, says the Queen, then Pamina will be his, forever. And with this promise, she disappears.
Scenes 7-8: The rocky landscape.
Asking the Gods for their protection annd for courage, Tamino is about to leave. He is halted by Papageno, who can only mime his desires (Hm! Hm! Hm!). Tamino feels sorry that the poor fellow can no longer chatter, but states that he is powerless to help. The three Ladies reappear, telling Papageno that the Queen has pardoned him. But with the removal of his padlock he must promise never to lie again. All proclaim that if all liars had their mouths padlocked, there would be less hate and defamation in the world - love and brotherhood would endure.
The First Lady presents Tamino with another gift from the Queen: a Magic Flute. "The Magic Flute will protect you, and sustain you in the greatest of misfortunes." The three Ladies tell him of its powers: with it he can change the passions of people, the sad will become joyful and the bachelor accept love. Such a Flute is worth more than gold and crowns, since it increases human happiness and contentment!
Papageno asks the Ladies if he has permission to leave. Imagine his surprise when he is told that he is to accompany Tamino to the castle of the evil demon who kidnapped Pamina. "Go to the castle of Sarastro? Surely he'd have me plucked and roasted and set his dogs on me?" He is not at all assured by their promises that the Prince will protect him. "The Prince can go to the devil," he thinks to himself. "Surely in the end the Prince will creep away, like a thief." Papageno values his life too much to put himself in such danger. The First Lady tempts Papageno, however, by presenting him with a 'treasure': a box with little bells inside. Assuring Papageno that he will be able to play them, and telling both men that the instruments are necessary for their protection, the three Ladies bid the men adieu.
"But how do we find the castle?" asks Papageno. The three Ladies tell them that three Boys, who are all young, handsome, sweet and wise, will hover above them on their journey (Drei Knäbchen). The Boys will guide them - and advise them. "Folllow only their advice." With goodbye wishes from all until they meet again, everyone departs.
Scenes 9-14: Inside Sarastro's palace.
Three Slaves are overjoyed that Pamina has managed to escape from her keeper, the Moor, Monostatos, an underling of Sarastro's. They praise the gods for heeding their prayers. The Third Slave remembers that he had foretold of the day when Monostatos would be punished. They laugh that Pamina was so easily able to escape from him: by crying out the name SARASTRO at a crucial moment of struggle, she shocked the Moor and ran toward the canal, sailing away in a boat to the palm grove. The Slaves picture her as a timid deer, fleeing toward the palace of her tender mother. Monostatos' voice rings out, calling them. He is asking for chains - and it is all too obvious that the chains are intended for Pamina. Monostatos has recaptured her. (Du feines Täubchen, nur herein). When Monostatos threatens her with death, the brave Pamina declares that death does not frighten her. She is bothered only by the thought of her mother, who will surely die of grief. However, Pamina faints at the thought of what Monostatos intends for her. Monostatos tells the Slaves to leave. He wants to be alone with her.
Papageno enters, not knowing where he is. The bird-man is as frightened of the black man as the black man is of the bird-man. The two run from each other. Pamina revives, sorry that she has reawakened to life. Her agonies are worse than death. Papageno returns, musing to himself that as there are black birds, why not black men. Having the picture in his possession, he instantly recognizes Pamina as the original of that portrait. But he must make sure. Yes, she has the same black eyes as the portrait, the same red lips, the same blond hair. And she even has hands and feet, things which, according to the picture, she should not have! Papageno's name is familiar to her, though they have never met. She asks him to explain how this picture came into his keeping. He tells her that he catches birds for her mother, but today he caught a PRINCE, who, after gazing momentarily upon her portrait, has vowed to rescue her. And why does he want to rescue her? Because this Prince loves her! Pamina is most overjoyed to hear that this unknown Prince loves her. Simply hearing the word 'love' pleases her.
She inquires as to why the Prince, so much in love, has not himself come to find her. "There is the problem!" cries Papageno - "The three Boys, who were to be our guides, never showed up!" Papageno declares that the Prince sent him on ahead, to announce his arrival. With this, Pamina is much impressed. How Sarastro would punish him if he were caught! But just as Papageno has convinced her that she must leave with him, Pamina begins to doubt his story. She wonders aloud whether it is a trap, and that this man could be another evil spirit from among Sarastro's followers. Papageno is saddened that she could think him - the best spirit in the world! - an evil spirit. But, since he possesses the portrait which comes from her sweet mother, Pamina is quickly convinced that he is not deceiving her. She asks for his forgiveness, if she has offended him, as she recognizes that he does indeed have a heart full of emotion. This unfortunate turn in the conversation brings sorrow to Papageno: he has no one to love. Not even a girlfriend, much less a wife! Pamina tells him to have patience - Heaven will take care of him, and send him a girlfriend. "If only it would send her soon!" cries Papageno. The two ponder the idea of love, expressing that there is nothing more noble than a man and woman, wife and man, who love each other and desire to live through love alone (Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen).
Scene 15: A grove with three temples. Each temple has a word above the door: Reason, Wisdom, Nature.
The three Boys arrive with Tamino in tow. "This path leads you to your goal," they tell him (Finale: Zum Ziele führt dich diese Bahn), but to achieve it he must be steadfast, tolerant, and discreet - in short, be a MAN. They leave Tamino to reflect upon their advice. He is confused by the place in which he finds himself (Die Weisheitslehre dieser Knaben). "What are these temples? Is this the seat of the gods?" Mustering all his courage, he boldly proceeds to the door of the Temple of Reason. Suddenly a voice tells him "Stay back!" He proceeds to the Temple of Nature, but another voice tells him to again "Stay back!" Walking with less assurance to the Temple of Wisdom, he knocks at the door. An old Priest - the Speaker - answers his knock. The Speaker is surprised when, in answer to his question, Tamino says he is seeking Love and Virtue within the walls of this temple. "The words are from a high-minded individual!" However, from his demeanor, the Speaker knows Tamino is enflamed by thoughts of death and revenge. "Only revenge on a villain." No villain is to be found among them, replies the Speaker. He acknowledges that Sarastro, indeed, does rule these lands and that he rules within the Temple of Wisdom. This comes as a complete shock to Tamino. "Everything is hypocrisy!" he cries, and is about to depart, when the Priest halts him. Realizing that it is the presence of Sarastro in the Temple of Wisdom which hastens Tamino on his way, the Speaker inquires as to why Tamino hates him so. When Tamino says that Sarastro is a monster, a tyrant, the Speaker asks if such has been proven. He scoffs at Tamino's answer that an unfortunate woman, who is downcast due to grief, gave testament. "A woman has thus bewitched you? A woman does little, but chatters a lot." The Priest hints that Sarastro's actions have a plan behind them, actions far different from the one Tamino has on his mind: Has Pamina been sacrificed? The Speaker is not allowed to say. Tamino pleads for him to explain the riddle. The Speaker swears that duty and an oath bind his tongue, but promises Tamino that all will be revealed as soon as he is led by the hand of friendship into the sanctuary to the eternal bond (Sobald dich führt der Freundschaft Hand).
"O eternal Night! when will you disappear? When will the light find my eyes?" whispers Tamino after the Priest retreats back inside the temple. Voices inside the temple whisper "soon, soon - Or never!" Tamino asks the mysterious voices, whether Pamina still lives. "Pamina .... lives!" the voices answer in return. Tamino is ecstatic. He thanks the voices for the good news. Wishing to express his thanks, he begins to play his Flute, praising its magical tone. He hopes that Pamina might hear the sweet song of his Flute (Wie stark ist nicht dein Zauberton). But no, she does not come. Suddenly, Papageno's panpipes are heard in the distance! Perhaps he has found her, Tamino thinks. He rushes off to meet up with them.
Scenes 16-19: Sarastro's Palace.
Papageno and Pamina each urge their feet to be quick and their courage to be swift (Schnelle Füße, rascher Mut), praying to be protected from their enemy's fury. If only they could find Tamino! Papageno sounds his panpipes. Tamino responds on his Flute. The two follow the sounds of the Flute only to be interrupted in their flight by Monostatos. He mocks them (Nur geschwinde! Nur geschwinde!), as he prepares to tie them up. Pamina and Papageno fear the worst, when Papageno remembers his Magic Bells. "He who wagers, often wins." He lets the little bells sing out. The Slaves - and even Monostatos - are entranced! (Das klinget so herrlich, das klinget so schön!) and they all dance away, much to the relief and delight of Pamina and Papageno. Oh, if only every man had such bells! His enemies would disappear and there would remain only the harmony of friendship (Könnte jeder brave Mann).
But the rejoicing is short-lived - a fanfare sounds the arrival of SARASTRO! (Es lebe Sarastro! Sarastro lebe!). While Papageno trembles, anticipating the worst, Pamina shows her strength. They will not cower, she says. "Be it a crime, we will tell the truth."
Cheers greet Sarastro as he enters the palace (Es lebe Sarastro! Sarastro soll leben!). Pamina kneels before him. "Sir, I am a criminal." She confesses that although she wanted to flee from his power, the blame lies not only with her. "The evil Moor demanded my love!" Sarastro asks her to stand up. He knows that she is in love and tells her he will not compel her to love anyone against her will. But neither will he give her her freedom. Her mother, he says, is in his power, and, if Pamina had remained with her, Pamina's good fortune would have been broken. "Your mother is a proud woman. A man must guide a woman's heart, for without a man, every woman steps beyond her domain."
Monostatos comes into the room, dragging Tamino behind him. Pamina recognizes Tamino, and he, her. They run to each other to embrace, which surprises all parties assembled, Monostatos most of all. Monostatos kneels at Sarastro's feet, begging his forgiveness. He offers his capture of Tamino as proof of his cunning and vigilance. But Sarastro is unimpressed. Rather than the expected riches, Monostatos receives a promise of 77 lashes on the soles of his feet! The assembled crowd praise Sarastro for his just rewards - and just punishments.
Telling two Priests to cover the heads of Papageno and Tamino, Sarastro orders that they be tested and purified in the temple. The crowd acknowledges that when there is virtue and justice, then mortals can create a heavenly kingdom on earth (Wenn Tugend und Gerechtigkeit).
The priests, led by Sarastro, enter the grove (instrumental march). Sarastro asks the other priests - consecrated servants of Isis and Osiris - to vote on whether Tamino - a 20-year-old king's son, should be allowed to join them. "In short," he says, "this youth has asked to have his dark veil ripped from his eyes so that he may gaze into the sanctuary of greatest light. To offer him the hand of friendship is our most important duty." A few priests ask questions. Is Tamino virtuous? discrete? charitable? Sarastro believes him to be all these things, and asks the other priests to signal their assent. They blow three times on their horns. Sarastro is moved by their unity. He tells the priests that when Tamino possesses the greatest of their difficult arts, evil prejudice should disappear. He now can let it be known that the gods had destined Pamina for Tamino. This was the reason he abducted her. Her proud mother thinks to rule through tricks and superstition, and through this to destroy the Temple of Wisdom. But this is not to be - not with Tamino as an Initiate. The priests once again show their assent with three blasts upon their horns. But the Speaker - the priest who first met Tamino at the temple's door - has his doubts. Will Tamino be able to withstand the trials ahead of him? He is, after all, a PRINCE. "Even more - he is a MAN!" responds Sarastro. The Speaker cannot help but ask, "What would happen should Tamino, a man still so young, die?" "Then he would experience the joy of the gods before us." The priests once again blow three times on their horns, as Sarastro asks to have Tamino and Papageno brought to them. It will be the Speaker's job to teach them to know the duty of humanity and the power of the gods. All ask Isis and Osiris to guide the steps of these two wanderers (O Isis und Osiris).
Scenes 2-6: An unknown place near or inside the temple. It is night.
Tamino comments on the terrible night and asks if Papageno is still with him, for in the darkness they cannot see each other. A storm rages. Neither knows where they are. Thunderclaps are heard intermittently, frightening the easily-frightened Papageno. When Tamino entreats Papageno to act like a man, Papageno says he wishes he were a girl! At this moment, the Speaker and another Priest arrive. With them they bring light. The Speaker asks, "What do you seek from us? What motivates you to penetrate our walls?" "Friendship and Love," announces Tamino. "Are you ready to fight with your life?" "Yes!" is Tamino's confident answer. "Even if DEATH is your destiny?" "Yes!" The Speaker indicates that there is still time to reconsider, but Tamino, with the promise of wisdom for his victory - and Pamina for his reward - is more than willing to undergo every trial. The two shake hands to seal the bargain.
The Priest asks Papageno if he is willing to fight for the love of wisdom. "Fighting is not my thing. I desire no wisdom at all." Being a child of nature, he says, he is satisfied with merely sleeping, eating and drinking. "Though if I could catch myself a wife...." "You will never obtain her if you do not undergo our trials," answers the Priest. Papageno inquires as to what these trials entail. "Submitting yourself to all of our laws - even in the face of death." "I'll stay single!" is Papageno's repeated answer, as the Priest continues to entice him with thoughts of a girl who would be young and beautiful, and exactly like him in color and dress. Papageno is interested enough to ask whether he would be permitted to see her. "But after I've seen her, must I die?" The Priest makes an ambiguous gesture. "I'll stay single!" The Priest continues, ignoring Papageno's remark, saying that Papageno may see her but not speak to her. Having learned his lesson about speaking out of turn, Papageno asserts that he, indeed, could hold his tongue. The Priest shakes his hand, promising Papageno an opportunity to meet his Papagena.
The Speaker tells Tamino, that he, too, must remain silent. "The gods have placed a salutary ban on speech. Without this you are both lost." He is told that he will see Pamina, but is not allowed to speak to her. "This is the beginning of your trials."
The Speaker and Priest tell the two that they must beware the malice and spite of women - this is the first duty of the Craft! Many men erred, and their reward was death and despair (Bewahret euch vor Weibertücken). With these instructions, the Priests leave, taking the light with them. Tamino philosophically quiets Papageno, saying they must endure the darkness with patience, as it is the will of the gods.
Suddenly, the three Ladies appear. They berate the two for being in such a horrible place (Wie? Wie? Wie?). They tell Tamino that he has sealed his fate: he is sworn to death. They tell Papageno that he is lost, which upsets him so much that he breaks his vow of silence. The Ladies tell them that the Queen has secretly gotten into the temple and Papageno must again be silenced by Tamino as he inquires how she could have done such a thing. "One hears much about the false minds of these priests," say the three Ladies. Tamino's only thought to this is that a wise man examines but does not heed what the common rabble say. "Tamino," plead the Ladies, "you are lost! Initiates go straight to Hell!" "Prattle repeated by women, but imagined and invented by hypocrites," Tamino tells Papageno. "But the Queen says so." "She is a woman - be quiet and let my word be good enough. Think of your oath, manage it wisely." When Papageno continues to chatter, Tamino silences him, calling his inability to stop talking a disgrace. Papageno echoes these sentiments himself.
The three Ladies, abandon their efforts. "A man is a firm spirit. He thinks what he can say." But before the Ladies can depart of their own accord, the Initiates detect their presence, swearing that their holy threshold has been profaned. "Down to hell with the women!" cry the hidden voices - and the three Ladies sink into the ground as thunder claps all around. Papageno is overcome with terror.
The three-fold chord - summoning the Initiates - is heard from deep inside the temple. The Speaker and Priest return, again bringing light with them. The Speaker congratulates Tamino on his steadfastness and manly conduct. Though cautioning Tamino about the dangers ahead, he promises happiness at the end of the trials. He covers Tamino's head and leads him away.
Papageno, lying in a faint, is prodded by the Priest. "Collect yourself and be a man!" Papageno gets up, but questions the Priest as to why he must experience such terrors. "If the gods have destined Papagena for me, why so many dangers to obtain her?" "May your reason answer this inquisitive question." He then covers Papageno's head and leads him away, as Papageno complains that such eternal wandering would be likely to make one give up love forever.
Scene 7-12: A garden.
Monostatos appears, watching a sleeping Pamina. Owing to what Monostatos calls "an eventful day", he has not undergone his punishment of 77 lashes. And what was the reason he was threatened with such punishment? For being in love. Passion for Pamina consummes him. He looks around. If he could be completely sure of not being seen or overheard, he would dare to press his suit once more. But, he thinks, a little kiss could be excused. Blaming his lack of luck with Pamina on his blackness, Monostatos wonders aloud why anyone should think him different from any other creature on earth (Alles Fühlt der Liebe Freuden). Is he not flesh and blood? Does he not have a heart? Telling the moon to hide so the act of his kissing will be not observed, he creeps closer toward the sleeping girl.
Suddenly the Queen arrives with a clap of thunder! "Back!" she cries. Monostatos surmises correctly that this is the goddess of the night. Pamina awakens, calling for her mother. Monostatos hides himself, determined to listen to the conversation between mother and daughter.
The Queen inquires as to the whereabouts of Tamino. She had sent him to rescue Pamina - where is he? Pamina tells her mother that he is to become an Initiate. This is not the news her mother wished to hear: "Unhappy daugher, you are lost to me forever." Pamina does not understand this. She begs her mother to take her and flee, for under the Queen's protection she could defy every danger. But the Queen confesses that she is incapable of protecting her daughter any longer. "With your father's death, my power ended." Pamina's father, her mother tells her, freely gave the Seven-fold Sun Circle to the Initiated Ones. Sarastro now wears it on his breast. On his deathbed he gave all his treasures to his wife and daughter. But the Sun Circle was to be given to Sarastro, to hold it in trust, as he himself had done during his life. Telling the Queen that she must not inquire about matters which did not concern her, he said "Your duty and that of your daughter, is to allow yourselves to be led by wise men."
Pamina says nothing about her father, but is wounded by the thought that Tamino is apparently lost to her. The Queen confirms that he will indeed be lost, unless Pamina can persuade him to flee before dawn. The first glimmer of the day decides whether he is wholly given to Pamina or to the Initiates. Pamina asks why she could not love Tamino if he became an Initiate? Her father was associated with these men and always praised them, for their goodness, their intelligence, their virtue. This infuriates the Queen. Her own daughter defending her mortal enemy! The Queen pulls out a knife. "This has been sharpened for Sarastro - you will kill him and bring me the Sun Circle." Her daughter is horrified, but the Queen will not listen to any protestations. She torments Pamina: "Unless you kill Sarastro, you will cease to be my daugher. I will forsake you forever." (Die Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen)
Pamina is aghast at the thought of committing murder. "That I cannot do!" Monostatos creeps to her side, thinking about the power he now realizes the Sun Cirlce must have if its possession is worth murder. Pamina is tormented by the words of her mother: her utter banishment as a daughter unless she kills Sarastro. "Gods, what should I do?"
"Entrust yourself to me!" says Monostatos. Pamina is shaken when she realizes he knows everything. Monostatos now has a powerful card to play: unless Pamina loves him, he will kill her, then inform Sarastro of the plan and her mother will probably be drowned in the very water the Initiates use for their purification. He presses her: will she love him, yes or no? "No!" she resolutely cries, "I have given my love to Tamino." Just as Monostatos is about to kill her with the knife intended for Sarastro, Sarastro steps in, taking the knife from him. Monostatos pleads that his actions were not criminal - he was preventing a crime: the murder of Sarastro. "I know only all too well," says Sarastro, returning the knife to Pamina. "Your soul is as black as your face. It is only because an evil woman - who has a very good daughter - forged the knife, that I do not punish you severely. Go!" Monostatos leaves, swearing to seek out the Queen.
The pain of her absence, says Pamina, is the reason for her mother's actions. She pleads with Sarastro not to punish her mother. "I know everything. I know that she plans revenge on me and all mankind." He promises her that if Tamino is courageous and steadfast, then she will be happy with him and her mother will return to her own castle. Vengeance is not known within these sacred walls and halls, he tells her (In diesen heil'gen Hallen). "Here all beings love each other, everyone forgives his enemy. Anyone not following these teachings does not deserve to be a human being."
Scenes 13-19: A hall within the temple.
Tamino and Papageno have been led inside a hall. The Speaker tells them they are to wait until they hear the roaring trumbones sound, then they must follow the sound. He promises that they will see each other again, before Tamino completely obtains his goal. He reminds Tamino of the oath of silence, and departs. The Priest who lead in Papageno admonishes him: "He who breaks his vow in this place will be punished by the gods through thunder and lightening." Then he, too, departs.
It is not long before Papageno is calling out Tamino's name. But Tamino's "sh-sh-sh" is in vain. Papageno claims that it cannot be breaking the oath if he is talking to himself - or even to Tamino, as they are both men. Tamino says nothing but "sh-sh." Papageno begins to sing to himself. Then he wishes for water. In answer to his wish, an ugly old woman appears with a glass of water for him. He invites her to sit down beside him and inquires after her age - which she claims is 18 years and two minutes! - and about her lover, who she says is about ten years older than she is. Knowing her to be an old crone, Papageno comments that it must be some romance: "What is the name of your lover?" "Papageno!" Can there possibly be two beings of the same name? He certainly hopes so, and asks her where this Papageno is. "There he sits, my angel," indicating Papageno. He asks her name, but her reply is interrupted by a clap of thunder and she disappears. "I won't say another word!" he says to Tamino.
The three Boys arrive, welcoming the men in Sarastro's kingdom for the second time (Seid uns zum zweitenmal willkommen). They return the Flute and Bells, which had been taken away from them. And they also bring food and drink, which greatly pleases Papageno. "If we see each other a third time, then joy will be the reward for your courage, so have courage, Tamino. And Papageno - SILENCE!" The Boys leave. Papageno wants to eat, but Tamino is uninterested. He plays upon his Flute. Papageno digs in! The food is delicious and the wine fit for the Gods!
Pamina arrives, having followed the sound of Tamino's Flute. "I ran as quickly as an arrow toward the sound." She sees his face. "But you are sad. Won't you speak to your Pamina?" Tamino only sighs and indicates that she should go away. "I should keep away from you? Don't you love me any more?" Again he sighs, but says nothing. "I should flee without knowing why? Have I offended you? Do not wound my heart any more. I seek comfort and help from you. Don't you love me anymore?" She is heartbroken that he does not speak. Even Papageno, when she turns to him, asking for reasons, will not speak to her. "This is worse than a wound - worse than death!" Calling Tamino her one and only love, she tells him of her despair (Ach ich fühl's). "See these tears, these flow for you alone. If you no longer feel love's yearning, then I will find peace in death." She dejectedly leaves.
Papageno asks Tamino to recognize that he, too, can keep quiet when he really needs to. But Tamino is reflectively quiet. The trombones sound - the signal for which they were instructed to wait. Tamino motions to go; Papageno tells him that he will catch up with him later. As the trombones continue to sound Tamino cannot persuade Papageno to leave: Papageno is intent on finishing his meal. "I wouldn't leave, even if Sarastro pulled me with his six lions!" But when the lions appear, it is Tamino who quiets them with the playing of his Flute. Papageno assures Tamino he will follow him anywhere. As the trombones sound once more, Papageno worriedly asks, "What will become of us?" Tamino gestures toward heaven. As Tamino leaves once again, Papageno lags behind: "We'll still be there in time to be roasted."
Scenes 20-21: Inside the vaults of a pyramid.
The assembled priests chant to Isis and Osiris, joyously looking forward to the moment when the gloomy night shall be banished by the brilliance of the sun (O Isis und Osiris, welche Wonne!). "Soon Tamino will be worthy to join us."
Tamino is brought in. Sarastro praises him for his manly conduct, but explains that he has two dangerous paths yet to wander. "If your heart still beats as warmly for Pamina, and you wish to reign as a wise sovereign, then may the gods accompany you further." Sarastro asks Tamino for his hand - then asks that Pamina be brought in. Pamina's head is covered, just as Tamino's had been. She asks to know where she is, and comments on the frightful silence. "Where is my young man?" she asks, as Sarastro lifts the sack off her head. "He awaits you in order to bid you a last farewell." Sarastro leads her to Tamino, whose only word is "Back!" Pamina has questions (Soll ich dich, Theurer, nicht mehr seh'n?): "Shall I see you no more, my dear one?" "In joy you will meet again," replies Sarastro, as Tamino holds to his oath of silence. Pamina warns him of the deadly dangers which await him. Tamino knows, and Sarastro tell her the same: if he is worthy, the gods will protect him. Pamina is apprehensive and fears he will not escape death. The thoughts of Tamino are echoed in the words of Sarastro: the will of the gods must be fulfilled, though Tamino does, indeed, love her as much as she loves him. "The hour strikes, now you must depart," commands Sarastro, as the lovers take leave of each other. Sarastro assures them that all three shall meet again.
Scenes 22-25: Somewhere in the temple.
Papageno is wandering around, totally lost. He accuses Tamino of abandoning him. He swears never to stray from Tamino's side, if only he would be saved. He finds the door through which Tamino walked, but as he tries it, a voice calls out "BACK!" But there is no where to turn back; he has no idea where he came in. When he does find another door, a voice again cries out "BACK!" Now he can go neither forward nor backward! "Must I starve to death in the end - why did I come along?"
The Speaker enters. "You deserve to wander forever the dark chasms of the earth - but the kind gods dismiss your punishment. However, you will never feel the pleasure of the Initiated." This news does not disturb Papageno: "There are many people in my situation." His only wish, he tells the Speaker, is a good glass of wine. The Speaker grants him this wish. Momentarily he feels exulted, but the feeling quickly dissipates into a strange feeling, which he cannot name. He dreams, once again, of a girlfriend or a sweet little wife; with her, all food and drink would taste better and his life would be complete (Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen wünscht Papageno sich!). The old crone reappears. She has taken pity on him. "And if you promise to be forever faithful, then you shall see how tenderly your little wife will love you." She extends her hand, asking for his pledge to their union. Only after much thought - and the threat of being left in the caverns, totally renounced by the world, with only water to drink, and no male or female friends - does he relent to shake her hand (albeit with an aside that he will remain true as long as no one prettier comes along). The instant he swears his fidelity, the crone changes into... PAPAGENA, a replica in color and dress, exactly as he had been promised.
As Papageno is about to embrace her, the Speaker wisks her away. "He is not yet worthy of you." Papageno, in a fighting mood, is about to follow them. He will not listen when the Speaker tells him to stay back. "The earth shall swallow me up before I'll turn back." Before his words are totally out of his mouth, the earth does swallow him up!
Scenes 26-27: A small garden
The three Boys await the first rays of the morning sun (finale: Bald prangt, den Morgen zu verkünden). "Soon superstition will vanish and the wise man will conquer." Then the Boys catch sight of Pamina. She is out of her mind. Tormented by the suffering of love, she is preparing to commit suicide (Du also bist mein Bräutigam?). The Boys try to gain her attention, but she is uncomprehending, caught in the dark moments between night and dawn. "Mother, I am suffering because of you - your curse follows me." The Boys beg her to follow them. "My measure of misery is full! Farewell, false youth! Pamina dies because of you: this knife kills me."
The Boys halt her actions (Ach! Unglückliche! Halt ein!). "If your young man could see you, he would die from sorrow: he loves you and you alone." Pamina now hears the Boys speaking to her. "He loves me? Why didn't he speak to me?" The Boys must keep the answer to her questions hidden, but they can bring her to him. "His heart is yours and because of it, he does not shrink from death." Pamina insists she must see him. They all have the same thought: When two hearts burn with love and the gods are protecting you, then no one can separate you (Zwei Herzen, die von Liebe brennen).
Scene 28: Two mountains are visible: within one, a waterfall rages; the other spits fire. Two armored men stand guard at the portal.
The armored men warn Tamino of the difficulties awaiting him: an Initiate is purified by passing through fire, water, air and earth (Der, Welcher wandert diese Straße voll Beschwerden). Should he overcome the terrors of death, then he will be enlightened and able to dedicate himself to the mysteries of Isis.
"Death does not frighten me. Open the gates of terror." But before he can step forward, Pamina calls out for him to wait. Tamino now realizes that she can go with him. No fate can separate them - be their fate victory or death. "Is it permitted that I speak with her?" Yes, answer the armored men, it is permitted. All three praise the courage of such a woman, declaring that as she does not shrink from night and death, Pamina, herself, is worthy of being initiated.
The two reunited lovers greet each other, declaring their mutual happiness (Tamino mein! O welch ein Glück!). When Tamino speaks of the terror and dangers awaiting him, Pamina answers that she will be right beside him, that she will, in fact, lead him. "Love guides me!" Although love would like to strew the path with roses, she advises, one must remember that roses have thorns. As long as Tamino plays upon the Flute, they will be protected. "It was cut from a thousand-year-old oak by my father in a magic hour, amid lightening and thunder, storm and bluster. Play! It will guide us along the grim road." The two are of one thought: "we wander by the power of the Flute's sound, joyfully through the dark night of death."
Tamino and Pamina travel the path which leads them through the trial of fire. When they emerge they pray that they will be likewise protected in the floodwaters. Again playing the Flute as they undergo their trials, the pair enter the trial by water. This time, when they emerge, voices proclaim the triumph of the noble pair (Triumph! Triumph!): "You have conquered the danger! The consecration of Isis is now yours! Come, enter the temple!"
Scene 29: The garden.
Papageno is all alone. He is calling, in vain, for his Papagena (Papagena! Papagena! Papagena!). "I was born already unlucky. I chattered and that was bad. I got what I deserved." He desparately yearns for his beloved pigeon, his heart's little wife. He is tired of his life, and decides to put an end to it. He sees a nearby tree. "Goodnight, black world," he says, as he prepares his noose. But on second thought, perhaps he'd better double-check that there is no one who would save him. "I'll count to three." One. He pauses. TWO. Still all is silent. Dejectedly, he continues: Three. "Since nothing holds me back: goodbye, you false world!"
Just in the nick of time, the three Boys appear, halting Papageno's actions. "You only live once and that should be enough for you." Papageno protests. The Boys remind him of the Magic Bells - if he will let them ring out, they will bring a wife to him. "Ring, bells, ring! I must see my beloved. Bring her to me." (Klinget, Glöckchen, klinget) "Now, Papageno, look around you!" The Boys depart and Papagena appears (Pa-pa-pa-pa). "Are you completely given to me?" asks Papageno. Yes, completely, Papagena replies. The two dream of the children they will have together: first a little Papageno, says the proud future father. Then a little Papagena, says the hopeful future mother. "Then another Papageno!" says he. "And another Papagena!" says she. They speak so often of Papagenos and Papagenas that one wonders if any nest will be big enough for such an imagined brood! "So many children, would be the blessing of their parents. That is the greatest feeling."
Scene 30: Near the two mountains of fire and water.
Monostatos is urging the Queen and her three Ladies to tread carefully and quietly. He is bringing them into the temple. He reminds the Queen of the price of his loyalty: "Keep your word - your child must be my wife." The Queen promises Pamina shall be his. They hear a terrible roaring, like the sound of thunder and waterfalls. Monostatos knows the Initiates are within the temple's halls. "There," they all say, "we shall attack them, and eradicate the pious bigots." Monostatos and the three Ladies praise their Queen, swearing that their vengence is an offering to her.
But they are too late! Suddenly, bright sunlight streams into the night. Their power has been smashed. They plunge into the bowels of the earth, into eternal night. "The rays of the sun expel the night and annihilate the power of the hypocrite," proclaims Sarastro, as he enters with the priests, Tamino and Pamina. All the followers of wisdom, including the triumphant lovers, praise and thank Osiris and Isis. "The strong have won and as reward, are crowned with everlasting crowns of beauty and wisdom."
synopsis copyright Kelly McDonald, 1997