Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder
February, 16, 18, 24, 2017, at 8 pm
Wednesday, February 22, at 7 pm
Sunday, February 26, at 2:30 pm
The Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton St.
Sung in German, with English dialogue and surtitles
Approximate running time: 160 minutes, plus one intermission
Pre-performance talk 1 hour before curtain
Mozart takes the ingredients for a fairy tale – a prince, his unwilling sidekick, a quest to rescue a beautiful princess – and transforms them into something far more profound as a young couple undergo a succession of trials.
Enigmatic and sublime, full of mystery and joy, this most bewitching of operas is an unforgettable journey from darkness to light, full of peril, magic, and the most enchanting music in the world.
WIth the Victoria Symphony and the Pacific Opera Chorus
The opera opens to Tamino's cries for help as he is pursued by a serpent. As he falls unconscious, the three ladies-in-waiting of the Queen of the Night arrive and kill the snake. They are quite taken with the good-looking young man, and each vies to be the one to stay with him while the others report back to the Queen. Eventually, they all unwillingly leave together.
Tamino awakes, disoriented and mystified by the sight of the dead snake. He sees someone approaching and hides.
The stranger sings of his job as a birdcatcher (Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja) and longs for a net to catch girls so that he can marry the one he likes best. When Tamino askes who he is, the birdcatcher, Papageno, explains that he makes his living bartering birds to the ladies of the Queen of the Night in exchange for food and drink. Assuming Papageno is his rescuer, Tamino asks how he could have killed the serpent without any weapons. Papageno boasts that his bare hands are more effective than any weapon.
The three ladies return and scold Papageno for telling lies. They tell him the Queen is sending him water instead of wine, a stone instead of bread – and a padlock for his mouth. They then inform Tamino that it was they who killed the snake.
The three ladies show Tamino a picture of the Queen's daughter Pamina. Tamino falls instantly in love (Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön / this image is enchantingly beautiful). The three ladies tell Tamino that Pamina has been kidnapped by an evil demon.
The Queen of the Night makes her entrance and urges Tamino to rescue her beloved daughter from the evil Sarastro, promising that if he succeeds, Pamina will be his forever (O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn! / Oh, do not tremble, my dear son!). Tamino is eager to comply.
The Queen leaves. Papageno still has his mouth padlocked shut, and Tamino is unable to help him (Quintet: Hm hm hm hm). The three ladies remove the lock, making Papageno promise never again to tell lies.
They then give Tamino a magic flute, worth more than gold or crowns that will protect him on his quest and bring love and happiness to humans.
Papageno has no intention of going anywhere near Sarastro, who is sure to have him plucked and roasted and fed to the dogs. However, the ladies insist that Papageno accompany Tamino, and they give him a set of magical bells to protect him, then send the young men off, guided by three mysterious spirits.
At Sarastro's palace, Pamina is dragged in after her latest attempt to escape. She is left alone with the brutal Monostatos just as Papageno, who has been sent on ahead as a scout, arrives. When Papageno and Monostatos see one another, each is convinced that the other is the devil, and Monostatos flees.
Papageno recognizes Pamina as the daughter of the Queen of the Night and brings her up to date on her mother's recruitment of the heroic Prince Tamino to save her. Pamina is touched. When she learns that Papageno has no wife – not even a girlfriend – she assures him that Heaven will soon send him a girl, and they sing an ode to love
Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen
In men, who feel love,
A good heart is not lacking ...
it is through love alone that we live.
Love sweetens every sorrow.
The two then leave Sarastro's palace.
Meanwhile, the three spirits lead Tamino to a grove where the temple of Reason, Nature, and Wisdom is standing. The spirits leave, advising him to be constant, patient, and discreet. Tamino tries to enter the temple but is refused admittance at the first two doors. Finally he tries the door of the Temple of Wisdom. A priest appears and tells him that he has been duped and that Sarastro is not the evil villain depicted by the Queen.
Tamino asks if Pamina is alive, but the priest says he is sworn not to tell him. An invisible chorus assures him that she is alive. Overcome with gratitude, Tamino takes his flute out and plays it. (Wie stark ist nicht dein Zauberton / How powerful your magic sound is, sweet flute, since through your playing even wild animals feel joy.) He hears the sound of Pagageno's pipes and rushes off to find him.
Papageno and Pamina are overtaken by Monostatos and his servants. Papageno desperately plays his magical bells. The music works its enchantment, and their captors are set dancing, allowing the pair to elude their captors (Das klinget so herrlich, Das klinget so schön! / That sounds so wonderful, That sounds so beautiful!).
No sooner have Pamina and Papageno escaped than they hear the chorus of the priests announcing Sarastro's arrival. Terrified, Papageno asks what they should say. Pamina replies, The truth, even if it were a crime!
The frightened pair are taken into custody. Pamina explains to Sarastro that she fled his palace in order to escape the attentions of Monostatos. Sarastro reassures her but insists that she must stay with him and be guided by a man rather than have her happiness entrusted to her proud mother. Monostatos arrives with another prisoner – Tamino. Tamino and Pamina meet each other for the first time and embrace. Monostatos expects Sarastro to punish the young man, but instead Sarastro has Monostatos punished.
The chorus praises Sarastro's wisdom as he orders Tamino and Papageno brought into the temple to begin their trials of purification.
Addressing the priests, Sarastro states that Tamino must undergo a series of trials to attain light and wisdom and to win Pamina, who has been destined by the gods for Tamino – it was for this reason that Sarastro seized her from her mother.
Sarastro then prays, (O Isis and Osiris) that the gods bestow the spirit of wisdom on the young couple, strengthen them with patience in danger, and receive them if they should die during the trial.
In response to questions from the priests, Tamino proclaims that he is willing to risk his life in his quest for friendship and love. But Papageno says that fighting isn't his thing and that he'd be contented with sleep, food and drink and, if possible, a pretty little wife. The priests tell him he'll never get a wife unless he submits to the trials – and they just happen to have the perfect wife set aside for him. Papageno is intrigued about this girl named Papagena.
The priests announce the first trial – a trial of silence. The two young men will be able to see their lovers but must not speak. (Bewahret euch vor Weibertücken / Beware of womanly wiles: this is the brotherhood's first duty!)
The three ladies appear and try to persuade the young men to abandon their quest, but, despite some lapses on Papageno's part, the young men persevere.
Meanwhile Monostatos creeps in on the sleeping Pamina (Alles fühlt der Liebe Freuden / Everyone feels the joys of love). When the Queen of the Night appears, he hides and watches as Pamina tells her mother that Tamino is now with Sarastro. The Queen gives Pamina a dagger, saying she will disown her daughter unless she kills Sarastro.
Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen
The revenge of Hell boils in my heart,
Death and despair are blazing around me.
Pamina is appalled.
After the Queen vanishes, Monostatos tries to blackmail Pamina by threatening to reveal the murder plot unless Pamina becomes his lover. She refuses and is saved by Sarastro's arrival. When Pamina begs Sarastro not to punish her mother, Sarastro reassures her that he is not vengeful (In diesen heil'gen Hallen kennt man die Rache nicht / In these hallowed halls, revenge is unknown).
The trials of Tamino and Papageno continue. They are again told they must remain silent. But the inveterate chatterbox Papageno falls into conversation with an old woman – actually the lovely young Papagena – who brings him water. After she disappears, the three spirits appear, bringing food, Papageno's magical bells, and Tamino's flute.
Pamina hears Tamino's flute and seeks him out. Because he is still undergoing the trial of silence, he sadly refuses to answer her. Pamina is heartbroken
Ach, ich fühl's, es ist verschwunden –
Ewig hin der Liebe Glück!
Ah, I feel it, it has vanished!
The joy of love gone forever!.
Tamino still has two dangerous trials to undergo. Sarastro brings Pamina and Tamino together to say a final farewell, although Sarastro suggests that if Tamino is worthy, the gods will protect him and they will meet again.
Left behind, Pagageno feels lost, abandoned, and frightened. The Speaker tells him he has failed his test and although he won't be punished, he will never be among the Initiated. Papageno doesn't care and says all he wants at the moment is a glass of wine – a wish that is instantly granted. Papageno then realizes he'd really like something else after all: a wife (Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen wünscht Papageno sich! / A girl or a wife is what Papageno really wishes for). Instantly, the old woman reappears, asking him to promise to be faithful to her. When it becomes clear that the alternative is to remain imprisoned alone with only bread and water, Papageno agrees, though not without a muttered aside that the old woman will do until someone prettier comes along. No sooner has he sworn to be faithful than the old woman is transformed into the enchanting young Papageno – and then shooed away by the Speaker.
The three spirits welcome the approach of dawn and of wisdom among mankind:
Bald prangt, den Morgen zu verkünden
Soon, heralding the morning, the sun will shine forth on its golden path.
Soon superstition shall vanish, soon the wise man will triumph ...
then earth will be a realm of heaven, and mortals will be like gods.
The three spirits notice Pamina, out of her mind with grief and despair, preparing to kill herself. They stop her, assuring her that Tamino loves her. The spirits then take her to him.
Tamino, about to begin the final trials, is now allowed to speak to Pamina. The reunited lovers express their joy (Tamino mein! O welch ein Glück! / My Tamino, oh, what happiness!) and Pamina promises to stay by Tamino's side and to lead him through the trials, guided by love and the magic flute, which had been carved by her father from a thousand-year-old oak. (Wir wandeln durch des Tones Macht / By the power of music we walk cheerfully through the dark night of death!). The couple now endure the Trials of Fire and Water together, guided by the music of the magic flute.
Meanwhile Papageno pines for his lost Papagena (Weibchen, Täubchen, meine Schöne / Little wife, little dove, my beautiful one) and threatens to hang himself. The three spirits persuade him to play his magic bells. Papagena appears, and the delighted pair, stammering with happiness (Pa-pa-pa, pa-pa-pa, Papagena!) envision a life together with many little Papagenos and Papagenas.
The Queen of the Night, Monostatos, and the three ladies try to storm Sarastro's temple and free Pamina so Monostatos can have her for his wife, but they are destroyed by Sarastro's forces of light.
Es siegte die Stärke, und krönet zum Lohn Die Schönheit und Weisheit mit ewiger Kron
Love has triumphed, rewarding beauty and wisdom with an everlasting crown!