The Magic Flute Synopsis
Tamino, a prince, is pursued by a monster. The Three Ladies, who serve the Queen of the Night, come to his rescue and kill the monster. They stand over the unconscious Tamino, discussing which of them should guard the prince and which should go and tell the queen, finally deciding that all three of them will go. Tamino awakes as the bird catcher Papageno arrives and introduces himself to the prince, saying that he was the one to slay the monster. The Ladies return and punish Papageno’s lie by placing a padlock on his mouth. They give Tamino a portrait of the Queen’s daughter Pamina, who, they tell him, is being held by the evil Sarastro. He instantly falls in love with Pamina’s portrait. The Queen of the Night appears and charges Tamino with rescuing her daughter. The Ladies give Tamino and Papageno magic instruments to protect them on their journey. The prince is given a flute while the bird catcher receives a set of bells. Joining them are three Spirits who guide their way.
In a room in Sarastro’s palace, his slave Monostatos pursues Pamina. Papageno, sent ahead by Tamino, enters and the slave and the bird catcher frighten each other away. Papageno soon returns however, and tells Pamina that her mother has sent Tamino to rescue her and that he is in love with her. She is overjoyed to hear the news and, upon learning of Papageno’s desire to find a wife, the two sing of their hopeful love.
The Spirits guide Tamino to Sarastro’s temple, telling him that if he is steadfast, patient, and silent he will defeat Sarastro. Tamino is denied entrance at two of the three temple doors. At the third door, a high priest appears and tells Tamino that it is the Queen, not Sarastro, who is evil. Assured that Pamina is alive, Tamino plays his flute to summon Papageno. As wild animals are charmed by its sounds, he hears Papageno’s pipe in response and runs toward the sound. While trying to escape, Papageno and Pamina are captured by Monostatos. But Papageno plays his magic bells and Monostatos is left helpless. Sarastro enters to great fanfare. Papageno trembles in fear but Pamina tells him that they must speak the truth. She tells Sarastro that she was trying to escape because of Monostatos’s unwanted advances. Sarastro says that he cannot return her to her mother, but promises her eventual freedom after she has learned the ways of virtue. He punishes Monostatos, and orders Pamina and Tamino to be veiled and led into the temple for purification.
Sarastro tells the priests that Tamino will undergo the initiation rites and that Pamina and Tamino will be married.
Tamino and Pamina are led into the temple. The Priest tells Tamino that he can still turn back, but Tamino says that he is determined to do anything necessary to win Pamina. Papageno at first refuses to undergo the trials, but when the Priest tells him that, if he does, Sarastro will give him a wife named Papagena, he agrees. Tamino and Papageno are told that to pass the test they should not trust women and that they must not speak to them. The Three Ladies appear asking what they are doing there saying that the Queen is on her way. Papageno is scared but Tamino tells him to be quiet and refuses to speak to them.
Pamina is asleep in a garden. Monostatos approaches her, full of lust. The Queen of the Night arrives and scares him away. She gives Pamina a dagger and tells her she must kill Sarastro. After she leaves, Monostatos returns and threatens to reveal the plot. Sarastro enters and drives him away and comforts Pamina.
Tamino and Papageno are still in the midst of their trial. Papageno is tempted by an old woman who offers him water. She disappears when the Spirits arrive to bring them acutal refreshments and guide Tamino through the rest of the trials. Pamina enters and tries to speak with Tamino. When he only responds in silence she believes that he no longer loves her and she leaves in despair.
The priests predict Tamino’s successful completion of the trials. Sarastro separates Tamino and Pamina, saying that they must remain apart while he undergoes the final two trials. After they leave, Papageno enters and plays his bells, singing that all he wants is a wife. The old woman reappears and, claiming to be just 18 years and two minutes old, tells him that if he doesn’t marry her he will remain alone forever. After Papageno reluctantly agrees, she magically becomes the young and beautiful Papagena. But before he can embrace her, she disappears again.
The Spirits find Pamina attempting to commit suicide with her mother’s dagger, thinking that Tamino has abandoned her. They take the dagger from her and assure Pamina that she will see Tamino soon.
Two men in armor sing of the triumph of the brave. Tamino says that he is ready to be tested. When he hears Pamina’s call, the men assure Tamino that the test of silence is over. Pamina and Tamino rush toward each other and she shares loving words. United, they pass through the final two trials unscathed.
Papageno, in despair at his loss of Papagena, attempts to commit suicide. The Spirits arrive and tell him he should play his magic bells to call her. Once he does, she instantly appears and the two sing a stammering duet of their wedded bliss soon to come.
Monostatos appears with the Queen and her Ladies, as they plot to destroy the, but Sarastro appears with Tamino and Pamina at his side, and the evil ones are cast into eternal darkness. Sarastro unites the young lovers and everyone gives thanks to the gods.
Production from Komische Oper Berlin. Co-produced by LA Opera and Minnesota Opera.