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20 January 2023, 11:08
What is the Queen of the Night really singing about in Mozart’s aria? We translated the German lyrics to find out…
It’s the first line of her spectacular, coloratura piece ‘Der Hölle Rache’, more commonly known as the Queen of the Night aria.
The soprano aria reaches an astonishingly high, Mariah Carey-level F6 above top C, and is therefore 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.
It depicts the Queen’s fit of rage, as she thrusts a knife into the hand of her daughter Pamina, and instructs her to assassinate the sorcerer Sarastro, else she will curse Pamina and never see her again.
Among her virtuosic cries of ‘ah-ah-ah-ah-aaah!’, here’s what the Queen is actually singing about...
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Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen,
Tod und Verzweiflung flammet um mich her!
Fühlt nicht durch dich Sarastro
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 der Mutter Schwur!
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!