The Magic Flute

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Opera in two acts
Libretto: Emanuel Schikaneder
World premiere: 30 September 1791, Vienna
Premiere of this production: 25 November 2012, Berlin
Production: Komische Oper, Berlin
In the original German with Polish surtitles

The Queen of the Night aria has departed the Solar System a long time ago and is travelling further in space alongside a few other musical gems in search for intelligent life. Those charged with selecting the tracks for the Voyager Golden Record faced a huge responsibility: if, indeed, there is an alien civilisation somewhere in the Universe that could potentially be hostile to the human race, it was best to introduce ourselves with ‘music [that] hath charms to soothe a savage breast’. And there is not a living soul on Earth who would not agree that these few minutes of coloratura fireworks are worth saving the human kind for. In the internationally popular Komische Oper’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute which we have been lucky enough to have in Warsaw for a few seasons now, the aria is performed by a giant lady spider dancing over a wriggling Tamino. The staging is the work of Barrie Kosky and the ‘1927’ duo made of performance art, theatre and film wizards who first conquered the Edinburgh Fringe and then ‘brought down the system’ at a few respected opera houses around the world. This dazzlingly hallucinatory show featuring actors playing in a live animation is a tribute to silent film. The director calls it ‘a silent movie by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’ inspired – one might add – by 18th-century chalcography, Yellow Submarine, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and superhero comics, to name just a few obvious references. It is an amazing show, an operatic joyride.



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


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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


  • Patrons of the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Partners of the Opera Academy

  • Partners of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Technological partner

  • Media patrons