15 Jun 2008

MOZART: Die Zauberflöte — Salzburg 2005

Die Zauberflöte: Singspiel in two acts, K. 620

Music composed by W. A. Mozart. Libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder.

First Performance: 30 September 1791, Theater auf der Wieden, Vienna

Principal Characters:
Sarastro Priest of the Sun Bass
Tamino a Javanese Prince Tenor
An Elderly Priest [‘Sprecher’; Orator, Speaker] Bass
Three Priests Bass, Tenor, Spoken Role
The Queen of Night Soprano
Pamina her daughter Soprano
Three Ladies attendants to the Queen Two Sopranos, Mezzo-Soprano
Three Boys Two Sopranos, Mezzo-Soprano
Papagena Soprano
Papageno a birdcatcher, employed by the Queen Baritone
Monostatos a Moor, overseer at the Temple Tenor
Two Men in Armour Tenor, Bass
Three Slaves Spoken Role

Synopsis:

Act I

Scene 1. Among rocky mountains

Pursued by a serpent which he is unable to kill because he has run out of arrows, Prince Tamino faints. Three veiled ladies kill the serpent and fall in love with the handsome stranger, each wishing to stay with him while the others tell their queen what has happened. Eventually all go. A feather-clad, pipe-playing figure arrives: Papageno the bird catcher, who claims to have killed the serpent. The three ladies padlock his mouth to stop him telling more lies. They give Tamino a portrait of Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night and when he falls in love with it, they tell him she has been carried off by an evil demon called Sarastro and he swears to save her.

A clap of thunder heralds the arrival of the queen, who promises that her daughter shall be Tamino’s bride if he rescues her. The ladies remove Papageno’s padlock and give Tamino a flute to help him in his quest and, ordering Papageno to go with him, give him a set of bells to use in time of need, explaining that three spirits will guide Tamino to Sarastro’s domain.

Scene 2. A room in Sarastro’s palace

Pamina tries to escape from the advances of the moor Monostatos, who is supposed to be guarding her. She faints and Papageno appears. He and Monostatos take each other for the devil and Monostatos flees. Papageno tells Pamina about the handsome prince who has fallen in love with her and is coming to rescue her and she consoles him on his wifeless state with the assurance that a loving heart will surely find a partner.

Scene 3. Pillars leading to the temples of wisdom, reason and nature

The three spirits leave Tamino in front of the pillars. He is turned back by unseen voices as he tries to enter the first two temples and a priestly figure bars his way to the third. From this man, the speaker, Tamino learns that although Pamina is in Sarastro’s realm, things are not as the Queen of the Night has represented them. But Tamino is not yet fit to understand the mysteries of the temples where Sarastro rules in wisdom. The Speaker disappears, but the voices tell Tamino that Pamina is alive. He expresses his joy by playing the flute and animals gather round to listen. He hears Papageno’s pipes and sets off to find him. Meanwhile Papageno and Pamina have been following the sound of the flute. They are overtaken by Monostatos and slaves who are about to drag them off in chains when Papageno remembers his magic bells. Monostatos and the slaves dance off, forgetting their intention.

Sarastro and priests of the brotherhood arrive and Pamina tells him that she has tried to escape because of Monostatos. Sarastro is kind, but tells her that she cannot yet be set free because of her mother’s evil influence.

Monostatos has captured Tamino. Pamina and Tamino rush into each other’s arms. Sarastro orders that Monostatos be whipped and Tamino and Papageno be led into the temple to be purified.

Act II

Scene 1. A grove in Sarastro’s domain

Sarastro urges the brotherhood to allow Tamino to undergo the trials that will make him worthy to join their band, explaining that the gods have ordained Pamina as Tamino’s wife; it is for this reason that he took her from her mother, whose aim is to destroy the temple.

Scene 2. A temple courtyard at night

Two priests ask Tamino and Papageno if they are prepared to undergo the trials. Tamino is ready. Papageno demurs, but weakens when told that the gods have a wife in store for him, just like himself and called Papagena. The priests impose silence on them, warn them against the wiles of women and leave them in the dark. The three ladies appear and threaten vengeance, but Tamino ignores them, advising Papageno to do the same. The ladies are driven off by the brotherhood. The priests commend Tamino for his steadfastness and lead him and the reluctant Papageno off to the next trial.

Scene 3. A garden lit by the moon

Monostatos tries to kiss the sleeping Pamina, but is frightened off by the arrival of the Queen of the Night, who gives Pamina a dagger, ordering her to kill Sarastro and bring back to her the circle of the sun which had been given to Sarastro by her late husband. When Pamina expresses her revulsion at the though of killing, Monostatos tells her that she can only save herself and her mother by loving him. Sarastro drives him away and assures Pamina that her mother is safe from him, since no thoughts of vengeance are permitted in his realm.

Scene 4. A hall

Tamino and Papageno are led in by the priests and left alone. Papageno complains of thirst and an old woman gives him water, tells him he is her sweetheart and disappears. The spirits bring back Tamino’s flute and Papageno’s bells, which had been taken from them. They also bring a feast which Papageno attacks with gusto, while Tamino abstains, playing the flute instead.

The sound draws Pamina, who is distressed when Tamino refuses to speak to her. Even Papageno, his mouth full of food, does not answer. She longs for death.

Scene 5. A subterranean vault

The priests rejoice at Tamino’s progress. Sarastro tells Tamino and Pamina to bid each other farewell for ever. Papageno is rejected by the brotherhood, but replies that there are more of his kind than theirs in the world. All he wants is a wife. The old woman appears; and, when he reluctantly promises to be faithful, changes into a young and beautiful girl, Papagena. But she is taken away by the priests.

Scene 6. A garden

The three spirits stop Pamina from killing herself, assuring her that Tamino would be heartbroken; they offer to take her to him.

Scene 7. Two mountains, one spitting fire, the other with a waterfall

Two men in armor guard the approaches. They tell Tamino that he may now speak to Pamina, and together they undergo the ordeals of fire and water, Tamino playing the flute as they go.

Scene 8. A garden

The boys prevent Papageno from committing suicide in his despair at the loss of Papagena. Following their advice, he plays his magic bells and she appears. They make joyful plans for a philoprogenitive future.

Scene 9. An underground vault

The Queen of the Night, her ladies and Monostatos, who has joined them in the hope of getting Pamina, attack the temple but are repulsed and defeated.

Scene 10. The temple of the sun

Sarastro leads the brotherhood in celebration of the triumph of light, and Tamino and Pamina are united in marriage.

[Synopsis Source: Opera~Opera]

Click here for the complete libretto.