What are the lyrics to the ‘Queen of the Night’ aria?

1 June 2018, 11:29

What is the Queen of the Night really singing about in Mozart’s aria? We translated the German lyrics to find out…

The Queen of the Night: she’s the fabulously terrifying character in Mozart’s The Magic Flute who most sopranos have a total love-hate relationship with.

Her aria ‘Der Hölle Rache’, more commonly known as the Queen of the Night aria, reaches an astonishingly high, Mariah Carey-level F6 above top C. It’s an aria reserved only for the most daring sopranos, like Mozart’s sister-in-law Josepha Hofer (the original Queen of the Night) and German opera singer Diana Damrau.

But among the distracting coloratura passages of ‘ah-ah-ah-ah-aaah!’, what on earth is the Queen of the Night actually singing about?

> The Magic Flute: A beginner’s guide to Mozart’s operas

To give some context to her anger, the aria comes at a moment when the Queen’s power and position is threatened by the sorcerer Sarastro, whose brotherhood her daughter Pamina is thinking about joining.

Here are the lyrics in German:

Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen,
Tod und Verzweiflung flammet um mich her!
Fühlt nicht durch dich Sarastro
Todesschmerzen,
So bist du meine Tochter nimmermehr.
Verstossen sei auf ewig,
Verlassen sei auf ewig,
Zertrümmert sei'n auf ewig
Alle Bande der Natur
Wenn nicht durch dich!
Sarastro wird erblassen!
Hört, Rachegötter,
Hört der Mutter Schwur!

And here they are in English:

The vengeance of Hell boils in my heart,
Death and despair flame about me!
If Sarastro does not through you feel
The pain of death,
Then you will be my daughter nevermore.
Disowned may you be forever,
Abandoned may you be forever,
Destroyed be forever
All the bonds of nature,
If not through you
Sarastro becomes pale!
Hear, Gods of Revenge,
Hear a mother's oath!

So yeah, it’s all very angry and vengeful.

Watch Diana Damrau totally own the performance here:

Photo credit: Royal Opera House