Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
The scene is laid in an imaginary ancient Egypt.
A mountainous landscape with a temple in the background.
Enter Tamino, dressed as a hunter, followed by a large snake. Overcome with shock, he faints. Out of the temple doors come three ladies-in-waiting. After killing the serpent, they admire the noble youth’s face and hurry away to warn the Queen of Night.Tamino regains his senses and is astonished to find the snake dead; he believes he owes his salvation to a strange-looking character, Papageno, a bird-catcher, who has just appeared dressed in feathers and playing a pipe. Papageno does not deny the deed, but is at once punished for his lie by the three ladies-in-waiting who reappear and close his mouth with a golden padlock. Meanwhile the young ladies show Tamino a portrait of the Queen of Night’s daughter, whose beauty inflames his heart. The maiden, however, has been kidnapped by the magician Sarastro. Conquered by such loveliness, Tamino offers to rescue her. The ladies-in-waiting hand him a golden flute with magic powers and, removing the padlock from Papageno’s mouth, enjoin him to follow Tamino to Sarastro’s castle; he too receives a magic instrument, with bells.
Hall in Sarastro’s palace.
Pamina has attempted to escape from the insistences of Monostatos, but the brutal moor has recaptured her and is leading her back by force to his palace. Frightened by the sight of Papageno,Monostatos flees. Papageno is thus able to approach Pamina and reveals to her that he has been sent by her mother, with a young prince, to set her free. Pamina and Papageno make their escape.
Enter Tamino led by three genii. The temple of Isis can be seen. Two of its doors – that of Reason and that of Nature – are closed. But one, that of Wisdom, opens and a priest comes forward to explain to Tamino that Sarastro is not a cruel sorcerer, but has been induced by just motives to protect Pamina from the influence of her mother. The priest reassures the noble youth that the maiden is alive. Tamino and Papageno, who escorts Pamina, look for one another in the wood, using their instruments to make themselves heard. The magic bells prove very useful in frightening away Monostatos and his men who are about to capture Papageno and Pamina. Sarastro appears. Pamina asks him to forgive her for running away and explains her reasons for doing so. Sarastro declares himself ready to grant her hand in marriage to a knight worthy of her, however he can never allow her to return to her mother. Tamino is dragged on stage by Monostatos. The youth and the maiden, who now set eyes on one another for the first time, throw themselves into each other’s arms while Monostatos, who has asked for a reward for his services, is punished.
Palm grove with architecture.
Sarastro directs his priests to take charge of Tamino who wishes to undergo the ordeals that will be assigned to him before he can join the rank of the initiates and marry Pamina.
Hall of the temple.
Tamino and Papageno, wearing hoods, prepare themselves, the former resolute, the latter seized with sudden terror. Their first trial is one of silence. Left alone, they are approached by the three ladies-in-waiting ofthe Queen of Night who contrive to dissuade them from their undertaking, but in vain.
Monostatos furtively creeps up to the sleeping Pamina and tries to kiss her. The Queen of Night bursts in to protect her daughter who flings herself into her mother’s arms for consolation, thinking she has been deserted by Tamino, engrossed in his initiation trials. The Queen of Night gives her daughter a dagger with which to kill Sarastro. But Monostatos, who has heard all, wrenches the weapon from the girl’s hand and threatens to reveal their intrigue. Sarastro comes upon them and chases Monostatos away. He reassures the maiden by telling her that not vendetta, but love will bring her happiness.
Hall of the temple.
Tamino and Papageno continue their trials. A hag appears, saying she is Papagena; she starts talking to Papageno but vanishes with a loud clap of thunder. In the sky appears a table spread with food and drink from which the two initiates can take refreshment before continuing their trial. Drawn by the sound of Tamino’s flute, Pamina enters, but her beloved is forbidden to speak to her. She is so deeply hurt that she tries to kill herself. However the three genii save her and reassure her of her beloved’s true sentiments. Now Tamino has to go through further ordeals by fire and water. Pamina follows him and advises him to play the magic flute. The tests are thus passed.
Papageno despairs because Papagena, who has become young and beautiful, appears before him for an instant, only to vanish at once.The sound of the magic bells causes her to reappear.
A landscape of steep rocks.
The Queen of Night, with Monostatos and the three ladies-in-waiting, attempt to enter the temple by stealth in order to kill Sarastro. But the ground, shaken by an earthquake, opens to swallow them up.
In the temple of the Sun.
Sarastro, enthroned and surrounded by his priests, with Tamino and Pamina celebrates the victory of Sun over Darkness.
Translation by Rodney Stringer