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Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute, is a fantastical tale that’s as moving as it is witty, and features some of Mozart’s most beautiful pieces
Act 1 opens with the handsome Prince Tamino being chased by a poisonous snake. He faints just as the snake is about to unleash its deadly bite, but the creature is killed by three ladies, servants of The Queen of the Night before it can attack the Prince.Pictured: Pavol Breslik, Sabina Cvilak, mezzo-soprano Barbara Heising and mezzo-soprano Julia Oesch perform Mozart's opera 'the Magic Flute' directed by Polish Krystian Lupa and conducted by English Daniel Harding during the international lyric arts festival, Aix-en-Provence, 2006
The three women are immediately taken with the handsome prince and each one tries to persuade the other two to leave so they can be alone with him. In the end they agree to go together to tell about the Queen of their handsome stranger. Pictured: Julia Oesch, Malin Bystroem and Hermine Haselboeck as the three ladies and Sen Guo as the Queen of the Night, Vienna's Theater an der Wien, 2008.
Tamino comes round from his faint while the women are gone, and finds himself confronted by the bird catcher, the feathered Papageno who claims that he killed the snake. The three women return in time to catch Papageno in his lie, and padlock his mouth to teach him a lesson. Pictured: Markus Werba as Papageno performs, Salzburg Festival, 2005.
The women return with a portrait of the Queen’s beautiful daughter, Pamina. They show the Prince the portrait and immediately falls in love with her who is currently being held captive by Sarastro. Picture Pavol Breslik during the international lyric arts festival, Aix-en-Provence, 2006
The Queen of the Night then arrives and grants Tamino permission to marry her daughter if he rescues her from Sarastro. Tamino agrees, and the Queen disappears as quickly as she arrived. Pictured: Members of the cast perform in the U-Bahn, Berlin, 2008.
The next scene finds us in Sarastro’s palace, where his slave, Monostatos, brings Pamina into the room. Just as he does so, Papageno, who has gone ahead of Tamino, arrives in. Both him and Monostatos are startled by each other’s appearance, and they flee in opposite directions. Pictured: Burkhard Ulrich as Monostatos and Genia K?hmeier as Pamina, Salzburg Festival, 2006.
Once the coast is clear, Papageno returns to the room and tells Pamina that he and a handsome prince have come to rescue her. She’s delighted to learn of her imminent escape and the news of her admirer. Pictured: Genia Kuehmeier as Pamina and Christian Gerhaher as Papageno, Salzburg Festival, 2006.
Meanwhile, the spirits guide Tamino to Sarastro’s temple. Once inside, the Prince is fooled into believing that the Queen of the Night is the evil one not Sarastro. Despite his misgivings about the Queen, he’s still determined to rescue his love. Tamino he plays his magic flute to try and summon his love and Papageno. The Prince follows the sound of Papageno’s pipes while the bird catcher and Pamina are guided by Tamino’s magic flute. Pictured: Paul Groves as Tamino as part of the Salzburg Festival, 2006.
But as they are searching for the Prince, Papageno and Pamina are confronted by Monostatos and a group of his men. They narrowly avoid capture when Papageno rings his silver bells, enchanting the men with the magical sound of the bells. But just as they escape Monostatos and his men, they find themselves face-to-face with Sarastro. Pictured: Genia Kuehmeier in the role of Pamina and Christian Gerhaher as Papageno, Salzburg Festival, 2006.
Sarastro tells Pamina that she will one day be free, but he cannot grant this himself as she must be guided by a man. As they talk Monostatos returns with Tamino. The Prince and Pamina and the lovers meet for the first time and embrace. Pictured: Rene Pape in the role of Sarastro and Genia Kuehmeier as Pamina, Salzburg Festival, 2005.
Sarastro isn’t prepared to let Pamina go easily and sets a series of challenges for Tamino. He leads the pair to the Temple of Orders where Sarastro tells Tamino he will not only win Pamina’s hand in marriage if he and Papageno complete the challenges, but will also hand over his crown to the Prince. Papageno is told he will find a woman of his own if they complete the tasks. Pictured: Burkhard Ulrich in the role of Monostaos and Rene Pape as Sarastro, Salzburg Festival, 2006.
For the first trial the pair must remain completely silent when confronted by women. The three women servants of the Queen of the Night appear, and Papageno opens his mouth to speak, but is immediately warned by Tamino and the three women leave. Pictured: Florian Sempey performs as Papageno at the Bordeaux opera, 2010.
Meanwhile Pamina is asleep in her room. Monostatos slips in and attempts to steal a kiss from her as she sleeps. As he leans in, the Queen of the Night appears and tells him to leave immediately. The Queen gives her daughter a dagger for which to kill Sarastro with. When the Queen leaves, Monostatos, who has been listening at the door, bursts in and tells her he will reveal the murder plot unless she gives into his advances. Sarastro then arrives, dismissing Monostatos and forgiving Pamina. Pictured: lbina Shagimuratova as the Queen of the Night and Genia Kuehmeier as Pamina, Salzburg Festival, 2008.
Pamina now enters and starts to talk to Tamino, who says silent. Not knowing about the trials, Pamina is confused and hurt by Tamino’s silence, believing that he no longer loves her. Pictured: Jeanne Zaepffel as Pamina in Peter Brook's production of "The Magic Flute", Lincoln Center Festival, New York, 2011.
Two more trials remain but while the priests celebrate Tamino and Papageno’s success so far with the Prince, the bird catcher, left alone, is approached by the old woman. The old woman tells him he must commit his love to her, or spend the rest of his life alone. As he reluctantly pledges his love to her, she transforms into a beautiful woman called Papagena. As she goes to embrace her, the priests arrives, chasing her away with thunder and lightening. Pictured: Pictured: Dan Plewka as Papageno and Sonja Bisgiel as Papagena shown at the U-Bahn subway station 'Bundestag', Berlin, 2008.
Desolated after her most recent, silent encounter with Tamino, Pamina attempts to kill herself with the dagger the Queen gave her, but is stopped by the three spirits. Pictured: Genia Kühmeier as Pamina, Salzburg Festival, 2006.
Tamino is led on stage by two men in armour who recite the creeds of the goddess Isis that promise enlightenment to those who overcome a fear of death. Tamino says he ready for the final two challenges – to walk through fire and water. But Pamina stops him and only agrees to him doing them if they can do them together. Protected by the magic flute, they complete both tasks unscathed. Pictured: Eric Cutler Tamino with Mary Dunleavy as Pamina at the Metropolitan Opera, Wednesday, 2006, New York.
The priests celebrate Tamino’s success, but Papageno is sad because he can’t find Papagena. He goes to hang himself, but the three spirits once again arrive and remind him of his magic bells. He rings them, summoning his beautiful Papagena. Pictured: Jonathan Lemalu as Papageno and Diana Damrau as Pamina, at Vienna's Theatre an der Wien, 2008.
Having turned on his master, Monostatos joins the Queen of the Night and her three ladies on their plot to destroy Sarastro’s castle. But before they can attack, they are stopped by magic forces and banished into the night. Pictured: Georg Zappenfeld as Sarastro, Diana Damrau as Pamina and Sen Guo as the Queen of the Night, Vienna's Theater an der Wien, 2008.
Sarastro unites the couple at the entrance of the main temple and the chorus sings the praises of the Prince and Pamina in overcoming the tasks to find true love. Pictured: Michael Schade as Tamino and Genia Kuehmeier in the role of the Pamina, Salzburg Festival, 2011.
From its premiere in Vienna on 30 September 1791, The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte), has been one of Mozart’s most popular, and commercial successful, operas. The German libretto was written by Emanuel Schikaneder, based on the Sophie Seyler's libretto for Hüon und Amande, which in turn had its foundations in the poem Oberon.Pictured: Welsh National Opera, 2008
The premiere at the out-of-town theatre Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden was a real family affair. Mozart himself conducted the orchestra, while Schikaneder played Papageno with Mozart’s sister-in-law Josepha Hofer as the Queen of The Night. Pictured: Welsh National Opera, 2008