Cast and main vocal parts
Thus, the vocal lines for Papageno—sung by Schikaneder himself—and Monostatos Johann Joseph Nouseul 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: In ensembles, Mozart skillfully combined voices of different ability levels.
The vocal ranges of two of the original singers for whom Mozart tailored his music have posed challenges for many singers who have since recreated their roles. At the low end, the part of Sarastro, premiered by Franz Xaver Gerl , includes a conspicuous F 2 in a few locations. The opera was premiered in Vienna on 30 September at the suburban Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden.
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 s. As Mozart's letters show, he was very pleased to have achieved such a success. 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.
You can see how this opera is becoming more and more esteemed. The opera celebrated its th performance in November , though Mozart did not have the pleasure of witnessing this milestone, as he had died 5 December The opera was first performed outside Vienna 21 September in Lemberg ,  then in Prague. It then made Branscombe "triumphal progress through Germany's opera houses great and small",  and with the early 19th century spread to essentially all the countries of Europe—and eventually, everywhere in the world—where opera is cultivated.
As Branscombe documents, the earlier performances were often of highly altered, sometimes even mutilated, versions of the opera see Ludwig Wenzel Lachnith. Productions of the past century have tended to be more faithful to Mozart's music, though faithful rendering of Mozart and Schikaneder's original quite explicit stage directions and dramatic vision continues to be rare; with isolated exceptions, modern productions strongly reflect the creative preferences of the stage director.
The Magic Flute is presently among the most frequently performed of all operas. On 28 December , three and a half weeks after Mozart's death, his widow Constanze offered to send a manuscript score of The Magic Flute to the electoral court in Bonn. Nikolaus Simrock published this text in the first full-score edition Bonn, , claiming that it was "in accordance with Mozart's own wishes" Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung , 13 September The Magic Flute is noted for its prominent Masonic elements,  although some scholars hold that the Masonic influence is exaggerated.
The Queen of the Night represents a dangerous form of obscurantism or, according to some, the anti-Masonic Roman Catholic Empress Maria Theresa ,  or, according to others, the contemporary Roman Catholic Church itself, which was also strongly anti-Masonic. Modern audiences often find the prominent strains of misogyny and the casual racism in The Magic Flute problematic. A man must guide your hearts, for without him all women tend to step outside their own sphere of activity" , and her supposed 'feminine' vindictive hysteria serves as a foil for Sarastro's 'masculine' dignified reason.
The perfidious villain Monostatos, meanwhile, is written as a Moor African. 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; "Hr. 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 vocal range of the part.
The work is scored for 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. It also requires a four-part chorus for several numbers notably the finales of each act.
Mozart also called for a stromento d'acciaio instrument of steel to perform Papageno's magic bells; an instrument which has since been lost to history, though modern day scholars believe it to be a keyed glockenspiel , which is usually substituted with a celesta in modern-day performances. Charles Rosen has remarked on the character of Mozart's orchestration:. The opera begins with the overture, which Mozart composed last.
Tamino, a handsome prince lost in a distant land, is pursued by a serpent and asks the gods to save him aria: He faints, and three ladies, attendants of the Queen of the Night, appear and kill the serpent. They find the unconscious prince extremely attractive, and each of them tries to convince the other two to leave.
After arguing, they reluctantly decide to leave together. Tamino wakes up, and is surprised to find himself still alive. Papageno enters dressed as a bird. He describes his life as a bird-catcher, complaining he has no wife or girlfriend aria: Tamino introduces himself to Papageno, thinking Papageno killed the serpent.
Papageno happily takes the credit — claiming he strangled it with his bare hands. The three ladies suddenly reappear and instead of giving him wine, cake and figs, they give him water, a stone and place a padlock over his mouth as a warning not to lie. They give Tamino a portrait of the Queen of the Night's daughter Pamina, with whom Tamino falls instantly in love aria: The ladies return and tell Tamino that Pamina has been captured by Sarastro, whom they describe as a powerful, evil demon. Tamino vows to rescue Pamina.
The Queen of the Night appears and promises Tamino that Pamina will be his if he rescues her from Sarastro Recitative and aria: The Queen leaves and the ladies remove the padlock from Papageno's mouth with a warning not to lie any more. They give Tamino a magic flute which has the power to change sorrow into joy. They tell Papageno to go with Tamino, and give him Papageno magic bells for protection.
The Golden Flute
The ladies introduce three child-spirits, who will guide Tamino and Papageno to Sarastro's temple. Together Tamino and Papageno set forth Quintet: Pamina is dragged in by Sarastro's slaves, apparently having tried to escape. Monostatos, a blackamoor and chief of the slaves, orders the slaves to chain her and leave him alone with her.
Papageno, sent ahead by Tamino to help find Pamina, enters Trio: Monostatos and Papageno are each terrified by the other's strange appearance and both flee.
The Magic Flute
Papageno returns and announces to Pamina that her mother has sent Tamino to save her. Pamina rejoices to hear that Tamino is in love with her.
She offers sympathy and hope to Papageno, who longs for a wife. Together they reflect on the joys and sacred duties of marital love duet: The three child-spirits lead Tamino to Sarastro's temple, promising that if he remains patient, wise and steadfast, he will succeed in rescuing Pamina Quartet: Tamino approaches the left-hand entrance and is denied access by voices from within.
The same happens when he goes to the entrance on the right. But from the entrance in the middle, an old priest appears and lets Tamino in. The old priest is referred to as "The Speaker" in the libretto, but his role is a singing role. He tells Tamino that Sarastro is benevolent, not evil, and that he should not trust the Queen of the Night. He promises that Tamino's confusion will be lifted when Tamino approaches the temple in a spirit of friendship.
Tamino plays his magic flute. Animals appear and dance, enraptured, to his music. Tamino hears Papageno's pipes sounding offstage, and hurries off to find him aria: Papageno and Pamina enter, searching for Tamino trio: They are recaptured by Monostatos and his slaves. Papageno plays his magic bells, and Monostatos and his slaves begin to dance, and exit the stage, still dancing, mesmerised by the beauty of the music chorus: Papageno and Pamina hear the sound of Sarastro's retinue approaching. Papageno is frightened and asks Pamina what they should say.
She answers that they must tell the truth. Sarastro enters, with a crowd of followers. Pamina falls at Sarastro's feet and confesses that she tried to escape because Monostatos had forced his attentions on her. Sarastro receives her kindly and assures her that he wishes only for her happiness.
Lori Shimer (Author of THE SONG OF THE GOLDEN FLUTE)
But he refuses to return her to her mother, whom he describes as a proud, headstrong woman, and a bad influence on those around her. Pamina, he says, must be guided by a man. Monostatos brings in Tamino. The two lovers see one another for the first time and embrace, causing indignation among Sarastro's followers. Monostatos tells Sarastro that he caught Papageno and Pamina trying to escape, and demands a reward.
Sarastro, however, punishes Monostatos for his lustful behaviour toward Pamina, and sends him away. He announces that Tamino must undergo trials of wisdom in order to become worthy as Pamina's husband. The priests declare that virtue and righteousness will sanctify life and make mortals like gods " Wenn Tugend und Gerechtigkeit ". The council of priests of Isis and Osiris , headed by Sarastro, enters to the sound of a solemn march.
Sarastro tells the priests that Tamino is ready to undergo the ordeals that will lead to enlightenment. Tamino and Papageno are led in by two priests for the first trial. The two priests advise Tamino and Papageno of the dangers ahead of them, warn them of women's wiles and swear them to silence Duet: The three ladies appear and try to frighten Tamino and Papageno into speaking. Seeing that Tamino will not speak to them, the ladies withdraw in confusion.
Monostatos approaches and gazes upon her with rapture. In response to the Queen's questioning, Pamina explains that he is joining Sarastro's brotherhood and she is thinking of accompanying him too. The Queen is not pleased.
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She explains that her husband was the previous owner of the temple and on his deathbed, he gives the ownership to Sarastro instead of her, rendering the Queen powerless This is in the original libretto, but in modern productions, it is usually omitted, making the scene with Pamina and her mother shorter. She gives Pamina a dagger, ordering her to kill Sarastro with it and threatening to disown her if she does not. Monostatos returns and tries to force Pamina's love by threatening to reveal the Queen's plot, but Sarastro enters and drives him off.
Pamina begs Sarastro to forgive her mother and he reassures her that revenge and cruelty have no place in his domain Aria: In the first trial, Tamino and Papageno must not speak to anyone. The Three Ladies arrive and try to get them to speak. Papageno cannot resist answering, but Tamino remains steadfast. The priests praise Tamino but scold Papageno, who does not understand why he has to undergo these trials if Sarastro has already found a wife for him.
Monostatos approaches the sleeping Pamina and is about to kiss her when the Queen of the Night, who had arrived unseen earlier, frightens him away. Seeking power that can be hers only if Sarastro dies, the Queen awakens Pamina and gives her a dagger, ordering her to kill Sarastro. After the Queen leaves, Monostatos tries to blackmail Pamina by threatening to reveal the murder plot, but Sarastro drives him off and reassures Pamina. Tamino and Papageno are undergoing a second trial of silence.
An old woman enters, carrying water. She says that she is 18 years and 2 minutes old. Papageno at first believes she means 80, but the old woman insists she is Papageno inquires if she has a sweetheart. She replies that she does, and that his name is Papageno.
Pamina enters and tries to talk to Tamino, but he refuses to answer. She leaves in despair. Sarastro separates Pamina and Tamino for their final trial. Papageno, still longing for a wife, plays his magic bells. The old woman reappears and demands that he promise to marry her, or else he will be alone forever. She is immediately transformed into a pretty girl: As Papageno runs to embrace her, the priests frighten her away. The Three Spirits come upon Pamina in a courtyard. They promise that she will see him soon. Two armoured men lead Tamino to his next trials, at mountains gushing fire and water.
They recite the credo of Isis that he who overcomes fear will achieve enlightenment. Tamino is reunited with Pamina. They exchange loving words and enter the trials together. The priests laud their success. In a garden on the temple grounds, Papageno has given up hope of ever finding Papagena again, so he tries to hang himself. But the Three Spirits remind him of the magic bells. He plays them, and Papagena appears. The happy pair celebrate their union. Meanwhile, Monostatos, the Queen, and the Three Ladies attempt to destroy the temple, but they are vanquished and cast into eternal darkness.
All ends happily when Sarastro unites Tamino and Pamina in marriage. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind. Your contribution may be further edited by our staff, and its publication is subject to our final approval. Unfortunately, our editorial approach may not be able to accommodate all contributions.
Our editors will review what you've submitted, and if it meets our criteria, we'll add it to the article. Please note that our editors may make some formatting changes or correct spelling or grammatical errors, and may also contact you if any clarifications are needed. Betsy Schwarm Linda Cantoni. Tamino, a prince tenor.
Papageno, a birdcatcher baritone. The Queen of the Night coloratura soprano. Sarastro, high priest of Isis bass. Three Ladies, attendants to the Queen sopranos, mezzo-soprano. Three Spirits, boys treble, alto , mezzo-soprano.
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