The Magic Flute
Mozart’s famous 1791 opera-turned-ballet, The Magic Flute, depicts a land between the sun and the moon, where the Queen of the Night beseeches Prince Tamino to save her daughter from Sarastro and offers a magic flute as protection. Reason and virtue confront irrationality and evil in this singspiel for the ages, as the hero attempts to uncover the truth before it’s too late.
Featured Creative Team
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Set & Costume Design
Having fallen into the Queen of the Night’s land, the floundering Tamino is instantly mesmerized by a television set before him. As he stands for nothing, he is vulnerable to fall for anything. He is soon surrounded by the Queen’s servants, the Glamazons, who pull him away from the TV’s hypnotic effects and prepare him for the Queen’s arrival.
The weak-willed Papageno, a simple servant of the Queen, wanders in and quickly falls for the lovely Papagena and then just as quickly becomes enticed away by the Glamazons. More spirited than her suitor, Papagena promptly departs with Papageno running after her. For failing this test of fidelity, the Glamazons shackle Papageno’s mouth, hands and pants as a means of punishment.
The Queen of the Night’s anticipated arrival is as grandiose as her persona. She, with all the drama her heart will allow, appeals to Tamino to rescue her kidnapped daughter Pamina from her estranged husband, Sarastro. The Queen presents Tamino with a picture locket to help him identify Pamina. One look at his rapturous gaze on her daughter’s likeness and the Queen knows he will be easily manipulated into this ancient quarrel with her husband.
Papageno returns and is unwittingly paired with Tamino to spearhead this rescue mission. The Navigators bestow them with gifts should they find trouble on their journey; for Papageno, a music box and for Tamino, a magic flute. As they ready for their departure, three babies float above them to remind them of the gift they will always have - the gift of the wonder and spirit that stays with you from childhood.
Meanwhile, Sarastro the High Priest is conducting an important lesson with his daughter Pamina and his disciple Monostatos. Filled with pride at his daughter’s adeptness, Sarastro leaves the lesson beaming. Once again outdone by Pamina, Monostatos decides the only way to defeat her at anything is to overcome her physically.
As Monostatos becomes aggressive with Pamina, Papageno stumbles upon them and Monostatos cowardly flees the scene. Papageno calms the distraught Pamina by giving her Tamino’s picture and she immediately becomes infatuated. They depart in search of Tamino.
Tamino arrives a heartbeat later and sees Sarastro’s Flock articulating the valuable lessons he has taught them. Sarastro mysteriously appears at his side and gives him a glass brick, not only as part of a riddle to understand his purpose in life, but to initiate him into his Order.
Left alone to contemplate this riddle, Tamino sits on the glass brick and plays his flute. An idea awakens in him that has lain dormant for a while; to make peace in his life he must learn how to tame his struggle between retaining his identity and sharing who he is with the world at large. After enjoying a few moments of divine contemplation, Tamino suddenly remembers his quest for Pamina and runs off in search of her, only for Pamina and Papageno to return seconds later.
Monostatos catches Pamina with Papageno. He steals Tamino’s picture in a feeble attempt to ruin Pamina’s connection with Tamino. Seizing the opportunity to cast Pamina in a negative light, he scolds her for breaking her vow of silence and attempts to turn the rest of the Flock against her. Anticipating his attack, Papageno momentarily subdues him by playing his music box. Somehow, Monostatos breaks out of the spell and flees to tell Sarastro of Pamina’s disloyalty to her father’s rules.
Sarastro tries to convince his daughter to stay true to her vows. Pamina, wanting to explore the world outside, argues with her over-protective father. Monostatos suddenly enters with Tamino, who is as elated to see Pamina as she is of him. They are drawn together in a passionate embrace while Monostatos looks at them with disgust. Castigating her indiscretion, he attacks Pamina, much to the shock of Sarastro. Disappointed with both of them he administers their punishment; Monostatos will be flogged and Pamina will build an enormous brick wall. Upon Sarastro’s order Papageno and Tamino are brought into the sanctuary. Pamina begrudgingly begins to build the glass wall.
Pamina stands in front of her brick wall and admires her accomplishment. Sarastro comes in and is astonished by her work. Though still angry with her father, Pamina eventually acquiesces and together they revel in the monument she has created.
Exhausted from her work, Pamina falls asleep, covered by her father’s coat. Sarastro leaves her to rest. Monostatos creeps in to steal a kiss, only to be interrupted by the Queen of the Night’s entrance. Together with Monostatos, she awakens her daughter and tries to implicate her in a plot of revenge against Sarastro. Pamina is conflicted in her loyalty to both her mother and father. Wanting to be true to both parents, she accepts the dagger from her mother. The omnipotent Sarastro enters sensing his daughter’s conflict. He teaches her that the darkness she feels in her heart can blind her vision of good, therefore making forgiveness impossible. Monostatos slinks away with the dagger.
Tamino and Papageno begin undergoing a similar trial - this time one of silence. The Glamazons are the first to test their resolve. Papageno falters and Tamino reminds him each time to be silent. Sarastro’s Flock enters to chase away the Glamazons and a strange gift is left for Papageno in their wake. A masked figure dances for Papageno, soon revealing herself as Papagena and quickly flees.
As Papageno runs after her, Pamina passes him running towards Tamino. Wanting to be true to his vow of silence, he is painfully silent as his true love attempts to speak to him. Devastated by Tamino’s despondence, Pamina tries to convince him to play his flute, which he relinquishes to her before running away. Pamina, stunned, stands alone. The Navigators surround her to try to convince her of Tamino’s love. She finally believes them upon discovering a hidden clue Tamino has left for her in the flute.
Moments later Tamino returns with Sarastro and the Queen. Sarastro goes over to Tamino and holds him back from Pamina, who is being held by her mother. The Queen of the Night and Sarastro, like other parents, resist relinquishing Tamino and Pamina into the world on their own. After struggling, they finally break free and embrace each other.
As they leave, Papageno arrives still searching for Papagena. He wanders through the community folk around him, pulling their hoods off in hopes of finding her. Distraught over his inability to find her, he remembers his music box. The sound summons the Navigators who inexplicably begin to bury Papageno in the snow. When he uncovers himself, he is magically reunited with Papagena.
The young lovers, together at last, are rejoicing as the Queen of the Night and Monostatos enter. Still not wanting to abandon her plan of revenge, the Queen tries to employ Papageno and Papagena to complete the deed. Sarastro enters and instead of punishing them welcomes the Queen and Monostatos into the community as a final act of forgiveness. Everyone joins in celebrating that amends have been made and balance has been restored.