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When to see it

The Story

Prince Tamino promises the Queen of the Night that he will rescue her daughter Pamina from the enchanter Sarastro. He begins his quest, accompanied by the bird-catcher Papageno – but all is not as it seems…

Read more… (Contains spoilers)

Background

Mozart wrote Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) for a suburban theatre in Vienna, the Theater auf der Wieden. He drew on the magical spectacle and earthy comedy of popular Viennese theatre. As well as being a comedy, The Magic Flute is an expression of Mozart’s profound spiritual beliefs: Enlightenment concerns with the search for wisdom and virtue are at the heart of this enchanting tale. The Magic Flute was an instant success with audiences and Mozart’s supposed rival Salieri described it as an ‘operone’ – a great opera.

David McVicar’s classic production embraces both the seriousness and comedy of Mozart’s work. The audience is transported to a fantastical world of dancing animals, flying machines and dazzlingly starry skies. The setting provides a wonderful backdrop for Mozart’s kaleidoscopic score, from the Queen of the Night’s coloratura fireworks to Tamino and Pamina’s lyrical love duets and Papageno’s hearty, folksong-like arias.

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On Wikipedia

The arrival of the Queen of the Night. Stage set by Karl Friedrich Schinkel for an 1815 production

The Magic Flute (German: Die Zauberflöte), K. 620, is an opera in two acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue. The work premiered on 30 September 1791 at Schikaneder's theatre, the Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna, just two months before the composer's premature death. In the opera the Queen of the Night persuades Prince Tamino to rescue her daughter Pamina from captivity under the high priest Sarastro; instead, he learns the high ideals of Sarastro's community and seeks to join it. Separately, then together, Tamino and Pamina undergo severe trials of initiation, which end in triumph, with the Queen and her cohorts vanquished. The earthy Papageno, who accompanies Tamino on his quest, fails the trials completely but is rewarded anyway with the hand of his ideal female companion Papagena.

Abstract taken from the Wikipedia article The Magic Flute, available under a Creative Commons license.