The Magic Flute

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  • Act I

    1 h 5 min.

  • Intermission

    20 min.

  • Act II

    1 h 10 min.

Duration: 2 h 35 min.

Opera in two acts
Libretto: Emanuel Schikaneder
World premiere: 30 September 1791, Vienna
Premiere: 11 December 2016
Production: Komische Oper, Berlin
In the original German 

Marc Chagall designed The Magic Flute in 1968 for the New York’s Metropolitan Opera, David Hockney designed it in 1978 for Glyndebourne. The creators behind the staging we see in Warsaw today wanted the visual side of it to be filled with magic and surrealism, wanted to free it from the shackles of rationality and let it be guided only by the logic of dreams. The director – Barrie Kosky, the Intendant of the Komische Oper in Berlin – collaborated on this show with Susanne Andrade – actress, poet and stand-up comedian, and with Paul Barrit, who created the animations. It is precisely the animations that free this show from the constraints of logic and allow rapid changes of location – from the internal to the outside world, from a grim forest to a seedy bar, from a beating heart to a space filled with fluttering butterflies. Swift pace is key to this staging. ‘Zu Hilfe! Zu Hilfe!’ sings Tamino, running till he is breathless. The action unfolds fast, also because the spoken parts are cut and replaced with silent movie intertitles. Silent movies are also a source of aesthetic inspiration for the creators – Murnau’s Nosferatu, Buster Keaton’s movies, as well as costumes and hairstyle of Louise Brooks: a short black bob with bangs. ‘I wanted to play with the contradictions inherent in the libretto,’ says Barrie Kosky. Indeed, the show he has created is fun and full of joy – it gives a real boost of energy and joie de vivre.




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    In a dark forest, far away …

    As he flees from a dangerous giant serpent, Tamino is rescued at the last second by the three ladies who serve the Queen of the Night. When he regains conscio- usness, the first thing Tamino sees is Papageno, and he believes him to be his rescuer. Papageno, a bird catcher in search of love, does nothing to dispel the misunderstanding. The three la- dies return and punish Papageno for his lies by rende- ring him mute. They show Tamino a picture of Pamina, the daughter of the Queen of the Night, whom Tamino instantly falls in love with.Shortly thereafter, the Queen of the Night herself ap- pears and tells Tamino of her daughter’s kidnapping at the hands of Sarastro. Tamino responds with great enthusiasm to her command that he free Pamina. The three ladies give Papageno back his voice and instruct him to accompany Tamino. As a protection against danger, they give Tamino the gift of a magic flute, whi- le Papageno receives magic bells. The three ladies dec- lare that three boys will show Tamino and Papageno the way to Sarastro.

    Pamina is being importuned by Sarastro’s slave Mono- statos. Papageno, who has become separated from Ta- mino on the way to Sarastro, is as scared by the strange appearance of Monostatos as the slave is by Papage- no’s. Alone with Pamina, Papageno announces that her rescuer Tamino will soon arrive. Papageno himself is sad that his search for love has thus far proved fruit- less. Pamina comforts him.

    The three boys have led Tamino to the gates of Sara- stro’s domain. Although he is initially refused entry, Tamino begins to doubt the statements made by the Queen of the Night regarding Sarastro. He begins to play on his magic flute, and enchants nature with his music.

    Papageno meanwhile flees with Pamina, but they are caught by Monostatos and his helpers. Papageno’s ma- gic bells put their pursuers out of action. Sarastro and his retinue then enter upon the scene. Monostatos leads in Tamino. The long yearned-for encounter between Tamino and Pamina is all too brief. Sarastro orders that they must first face a series of trials.

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    The trial of silence

    Tamino and Papageno must practise being silent. Because of the appearance of the ladies and their warnings, their ordeal is a truly testing one. Tamino remains resolute, while Papageno immedia- tely begins to chatter.

    Meanwhile, Monostatos again tries to get close to the sleeping Pamina. The Queen of the Night appears and orders her daughter to kill Sarastro. Pamina remains behind, despairing. Sarastro seeks to console Pamina by foreswearing any thoughts of revenge.

    The trial of temptation

    Tamino and Papageno must resist any temptation: no conversa- tion, no women, no food! As well as the magic flute and magic bells the three boys also bring Tamino and Papageno food, which Tamino once again ste- adfastly resists. Even Pamina fails to draw a single word from Tamino’s lips, which she interprets as a rejection. She laments the cooling of Tamino’s love for her.

    Before the last great trial, Pamina and Tamino are brought together one last time to say farewell to one another. Papageno is not permitted to take part in any further trials. He now wishes for only a glass of wine – and dreams of his great love.

    For her part, Pamina believes that she has lost Tamino forever. In her despair, she seeks to end her own life, but is prevented from doing so by the three boys, who assure her that Tamino still loves her. Gladdened and relieved, Pamina accepts their invitation to see Tamino again. Reunited at last, Tamino and Pamina undergo the final trial together.

    The trial of fire and water

    The music of the magic flute and their love for one another allow Tamino and Pamina to conquer their own fear and overcome the dangers of fire and water.

    Papageno is meanwhile still unsuccessful in his search for his gre- at love. Despairing, he now also seeks to end his life, but is also prevented from doing so by the three boys. Papageno’s dream fi- nally comes true: together with his Papagena, he dreams of being blessed with many children.

    Meanwhile …

    … the Queen of the Night, the three ladies, and the turncoat Mo- nostatos arm themselves for an attack against Sarastro and his reti- nue. However, the attack is repelled.

    Tamino and Pamina have reached the end of their trials, and can finally be together

Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatr Wielki  Polish National Opera
Artos Boys’ Choir (in the roles of Boys/Knaben)


  • Patron of Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera

  • Partners of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Media patrons of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

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