Opera Scotland

Magic Flute Die Zauberflöte; Il Flauto Magico

Music
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (born Salzburg, 27 January 1756; died Vienna, 5 December 1791)

Text
Emanuel Schikaneder.

Source
Story Lulu in a collection of oriental fairy tales, Dschinnistan (1786) by Wieland., and other sources.

Premières
First performance: Vienna (Freihaustheater auf der Wieden), 30 September 1791.
First UK performance: London (His Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket), 6 June 1811.
First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Theatre Royal), 4 March 1869.
Scottish Opera première: Edinburgh (Royal Lyceum Theatre), 20 June 1970.

Background
The Magic Flute was an immediate popular and commercial success. Sadly, Mozart died a few months after the premiere, without being fully aware of the extent to which it had the potential to transform his financial situation as well as establishing the German form of opera he so favoured. While it does not seem to have been enormously popular in the nineteenth century, it has since established itself as one of the most popular works in the repertory. Its combination of the elements of pantomime, morality, and fairy tale enchants audiences of all ages. A first encounter always gives a sense of surprise that the good Queen turns out to be evil and the apparently bad Sarastro turns out to be wise and good.

Main Characters
Tamino, a prince (tenor)
Three Ladies in attendance on the Queen (soprano, mezzo and contralto)
Papageno, a bird-catcher (baritone)
Queen of Night (soprano)
Monostatos (tenor)
Pamina, the Queen’s daughter (soprano)
The Speaker (baritone)
Sarastro (bass)
Papagena (soprano)

Plot Summary
Tamino, pursued by a serpent, faints in terror, but the creature is killed by the three Ladies, who then squabble over the prize and decide to leave him unguarded while they inform the Queen. In their absence, Papageno claims to have killed the serpent, but the returning ladies punish him for lying. They give Tamino a portrait of Pamina, and he falls in love, so when the Queen comes he agrees to her request to rescue her daughter from Sarastro. Tamino is given a magic flute to help him, and Papageno goes too, armed with a set of magic bells. Tamino soon discovers that Sarastro is not evil, but has taken Pamina to stop her being corrupted by her mother. However she is threatened by Sarastro’s servant Monostatos, who is disarmed by Papageno and the magic bells. Tamino has to undergo a series of tests to show that he is worthy to join Sarastro’s brotherhood. One test is that of silence, which he passes, in spite of the fact that Pamina fails to understand, and thinks he no longer loves her. Papageno fails this test, but is content with a simple life – all he wants is a wife. The Queen tries to persuade Pamina to kill Sarastro, but she is foiled, and Pamina is allowed to accompany Tamino through the remaining tests to show they are worthy, though protected by the playing of the flute. Papageno is excused this task, and his magic bells bring him Papagena, his longed-for wife.

The Cast

First Armed Man
 
First Boy
 
First Lady
 in attendance on the Queen
First Priest
 
Fourth Priest
 
Monostatos
 a servant in the Temple
Pamina
 daughter of the Queen of Night
Papagena
 disguised as an old woman
Papageno
 a bird-catcher
Queen of Night
 
Sarastro
 High Priest of Isis and Osiris
Second Armed Man
 
Second Boy
 
Second Lady
 in attendance on the Queen
Second Priest
 
Slave
 
Speaker
 at the Temple
Tamino
 a Prince
Third Boy
 
Third Lady
 in attendance on the Queen
Third Priest
 

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