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Grand Opera in two acts.
Libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder
First performed September 30th 1791, Freihaustheater auf der Wieden, Vienna
Sung in German. c. 3 hrs 15 mins, including 1 interval
Pamina Kateryna Kasper / Juanita Lascarro / Elizabeth Reiter
Tamino David Portillo / Theo Lebow
Papageno Sebastian Geyer / Björn Bürger / Daniel Schmutzhard
Queen of the Night Brenda Rae
Sarastro Alfred Reiter / Andreas Bauer
Monostotos Michael McCown / Peter Marsh
Papagena Elizabeth Sutphen* / Katharina Ruckgaber
Speaker James Rutherford
1st Lady Alison King / Karen Vuong
2nd Lady Cecelia Hall / Paula Murrihy
3rd Lady Katharina Magiera / Judita Nagyová / Stine Marie Fischer
1st Armed Man Vincent Wolfsteiner / Michael McCown
2nd Armed Man Thomas Faulkner / Daniel Miroslaw
* Member of the Opera Studio
Die Zauberflöte is one of the most successful operas ever written. It all began with the brilliant world premere on September 30th 1791 – conducted by Mozart, two months before his death – on a stage in a suburb of Vienna - because this lyrical drama, with hits like the Queen of the Night's and Papageno's arias, was written for audiences in a normal theatre, not for society at the royal court – inspired by fairy tales and funny tales for the people, by novels about ancient Egypt and Freemasonry. It is about life and death, love and growing up, wisdom and strength in the eternal fight between light and shadows, good and evil – but above all about the magic of music: can a magic flute and glockenspiel really save anyone from dangerous situations? Alfred Kirchner's Frankfurt production has been very popular for nearly twenty years. It focusses on the magical, and bathes the opera in lovely colours, the production is full of detail and, in many places, very funny. The well known artist and book illustrator Michael Sowa, who reached an even greater audience when he worked on the film Amélie's Magnificent World, designed the wonderful set and costumes.
Tamino faints when he sees a serpent, which is killed by the Queen of the Night's ladies. Tamino sees Papageno, a bird catcher, and assumes that he saved him. Papageno says it was easy to kill the serpent. The ladies return and put a padlock on his mouth to punish him. They hand Tamino a portrait of Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night, saying that she has been abducted by Sarastro. He falls in love with her. The Queen of the Night tells Tamino that he can marry Pamina if he rescues her. Papageno is scared but reluctantly agrees to accompany Tamino. The ladies give Tamino a magic flute and Papageno some magic bells to protect them. 3 boys will guide them. In Sarastro's castle Monostatos tries to seduce Pamina. She faints. Papageno appears. He and Monostatos flee from one another in fright. Pamina awakes to see Papageno, who explains that he and Tamino have come to rescue her. The 3 boys lead Tamino to the temples of Wisdom, Reason & Nature. He is told to retreat from the first two but a priest appears from the third. He says he has come to rescue Pamina from evil Sarastro. He is told that Sarastro is good and wise. Voices from within tell him that Pamina lives. Papageno & Pamina hear Tamino’s flute. Monostatos tries to arrest them but Papageno's bells make his men dance and sing instead. Tamino and Pamina finally meet. ACT 2 Sarastro wants to initiate Tamino into their order - the other priests consent. Tamino will be rewarded with Pamina’s hand, and Papageno is promised a wife, if they withstand trials of virtue, silence & courage. They pass the first test, resisting the seductive three ladies. Meanwhile Monostatos intends to ravish the sleeping Pamina but is stopped by the Queen of the Night. She gives Pamina a dagger saying that she must kill Sarastro. Monostatos tells Pamina he will save her life if she will love him, she refuses. He tries to stab her but Sarastro comes to the rescue. The second trail is one of silence, which Papageno immediately breaks. Tamino keeps silent, even when confronted by heartbroken Pamina, who cannot understand why he won't talk to her. Tamino is congratulated. Pamina is brought to him to take her farewell before the final test. Papageno longs for a wife. An old woman appears, who says he must accept her or die alone. He reluctantly agrees to marry her. She is transformed into Papagena, a beautiful girl. She is chased away because Papageno has not yet proved himself worthy. The 3 boys prevent Pamina from committing suicide and lead her to Tamino. Together they endure the trial of fire and water protected by the flute. Papageno tries to hang himself but the boys stop him. The Queen, her ladies & Monostatos make a last attempt to destroy Sarastro but fail. Papageno gets his Papagena and Sarastro unites Tamino and Pamina. All sing the praises of Isis and Osiris.