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Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast: The Magic Flute 

Saturday, December 29, 1:00 P.M. (ET)

Broadcast Magic Flute hdl 1218
Pamina (Golda Schultz) in captivity in The Magic Flute at the Met
© Beatriz Schiller
The Met: Live in HD series is made possible by a generous grant 
from its founding sponsor, The Neubauer Family Foundation. 
Digital support of The Met: Live in HD is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies. 
The HD Broadcasts are supported by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®.

The Magic Flute
English translation by J.D. MCCLATCHY 
(in order of vocal appearance)
Tamino  tenor, BEN BLISS 
Three Ladies  soprano, GABRIELLA REYES 
  mezzo-soprano, EMILY D’ANGELO 
  mezzo-soprano, MARIA ZIFCHAK 
Papageno  baritone, NATHAN GUNN 
Queen of the Night  soprano, KATHRYN LEWEK 
Three Slaves  tenor, STEPHEN PAYNTER 
  tenor, KURT PHINNEY 
Monostatos   tenor, BRENTON RYAN 
Pamina  soprano, ERIN MORLEY 
Three Spirits   treble, JULIAN FERTEL 
   treble, ELIOT FLOWERS 
Speaker  bass-baritone, ALFRED WALKER 
Sarastro   bass, MORRIS ROBINSON 
Priests   bass-baritone, BRADLEY GARVIN 
Papagena  soprano, ASHLEY EMERSON 
Guards  tenor, IAN KOZIARA 
Flute solo  TK  
Conducted by HARRY BICKET
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
The Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus
Production: Julie Taymor
Set designer: George Tsypin
Costume designer: Julie Taymor
Lighting designer: Donald Holder
Puppet designers: Julie Taymor, Michael Curry
Choreographer: Mark Dendy
Projection designer: Caterina Bertolotto
Stage director: David Kneuss
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo
Musical preparation: Donna Racik, Dan Saunders, Steven White, Bryan Wagorn
Assistant stage directors: Sarah Ina Meyers,
J. Knighten Smit

Children’s chorus director: Anthony Piccolo
Prompter: Donna Racik
Abridged production of
The Magic Flute a gift of
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and
Bill Rollnick and Nancy Ellison Rollnick
Original production of Die Zauberflöte a gift of
Mr. and Mrs. Henry R. Kravis    
Additional funding from John Van Meter, The Annenberg Foundation, Karen and Kevin Kennedy, Bill Rollnick and Nancy Ellison Rollnick, Mr. and Mrs. William R. Miller, Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman, and Mr. and Mrs. Ezra K. Zilkha 
Timings (ET) 
Sc. 1  Realm of the Queen of the Night 1:00–2:59
Sc. 2  A room in Sarastro’s palace  
Sc. 3 Outside Sarastro’s temple of wisdom  
Sc. 4 The temple’s inner sanctum   
Sc. 5 A labyrinth  
Sc. 6 A rose garden   
Sc. 7 A vault in the temple  
Sc. 8 The grand hall of the temple  
Sc. 9 An entrance to the temple  
Sc. 10          A hillside  
Sc. 11 Entrance to the grand hall of the temple  
Sc. 12 Temple of the sun  
Host: Mary Jo Heath
Commentator: Ira Siff
Music producer: Jay David Saks
Producers: Ellen Keel, John Bischoff,
William Berger

Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni, Elena Park 


Three ladies in the service of the Queen of the Night save the fainting Prince Tamino from a serpent ("A serpent! A monster!"). When they leave to tell the queen, the bird catcher Papageno bounces in and boasts to Tamino that it was he who killed the creature ("I'm Papageno"). The ladies return to give Tamino a portrait of the queen's daughter, Pamina, who they say is enslaved by the evil Sarastro, and they padlock Papageno's mouth for lying. Tamino falls in love with Pamina's face in the portrait ("This portrait's beauty"). The queen, appearing in a burst of thunder, is grieving over the loss of her daughter; she charges Tamino with Pamina's rescue ("My fate is grief"). The ladies give a magic flute to Tamino and silver bells to Papageno to ensure their safety, appointing three spirits to guide them ("Hm! hm! hm! hm!"). 

Sarastro's slave Monostatos pursues Pamina ("You will not dare escape") but is frightened away by the feather-covered Papageno, who tells Pamina that Tamino loves her and intends to save her. Led by the three spirits to the Temple of Sarastro, Tamino is advised by a high priest that it is the queen, not Sarastro, who is evil. Hearing that Pamina is safe, Tamino charms the animals with his flute, then rushes to follow the sound of Papageno's pipes. Monostatos and his cohorts chase Papageno and Pamina but are left helpless by Papageno's magic bells. Sarastro, entering in great ceremony ("Long life to Sarastro"), promises Pamina eventual freedom and punishes Monostatos. Pamina is enchanted by a glimpse of Tamino, who is led into the temple with Papageno. 

Sarastro tells his priests that Tamino will undergo initiation rites ("O Isis and Osiris"). Monostatos tries to kiss the sleeping Pamina ("Men were born to be great lovers"). He is discovered by the Queen of the Night, who dismisses him. She gives her daughter a dagger with which to murder Sarastro ("Here in my heart, Hell's bitterness"). 

The weeping Pamina is confronted and consoled by Sarastro ("Within our sacred temple"). Tamino and Papageno are told by a priest that they must remain silent and refrain from eating, a vow that Papageno immediately breaks when he takes a glass of water from a flirtatious old lady. The old lady vanishes when he asks her name. The three spirits appear to guide Tamino through the rest of his journey and to tell Papageno to be quiet. Tamino remains silent even when Pamina appears, which breaks her heart since she cannot understand his reticence ("Now my heart is filled with sadness"). 

The priests inform Tamino that he has only two more trials to complete his initiation ("Why, beloved, must we part?"). Papageno longs for a cuddly wife but settles for the old lady. When he promises to be faithful she turns into a young Papagena but soon disappears. 

After many dangers, Pamina and Tamino are reunited and face the ordeals of water and fire protected by the magic flute. 

Papageno is saved from attempted suicide by the spirits who remind him that if he uses his magic bells he will find true happiness. When he does, Papagena appears and the two plan for the future and move into a bird's nest ("Pa-pa-pa…"). The Queen of the Night, her three ladies and Monostatos attack the temple but are defeated and banished. Sarastro joins Pamina and Tamino as the people hail Isis, Osiris and the triumph of courage, virtue and wisdom.


Die Zauberflöte was the last opera completed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. When he died, aged thirty-five, two months after its premiere, the work already had enjoyed a success.

Because of its spoken dialogue, Die Zauberflöte is technically not an opera but a singspiel (song play). Mozart was eager to write another such work in German, for both artistic and financial reasons. (It had been nine years since the last one, Die Entführung aus dem Serail.) The opportunity came in March 1791, when the actor and impresario Emanuel Schikaneder needed a new work for the theater he was managing in a suburb of Vienna.

Originally setting out to create an Oriental fantasy play (a type popular at that time), the authors, both members of the secret fraternal society of Freemasons, founded on aims of high ethical intent, decided midway in the first act to alter the course of the story to honor the recent death of a Masonic leader, Ignatz von Born.

In the premiere, at the Theater auf der Wieden, September 30, 1791, Schikaneder played Papageno; the Queen of the Night was Mozart's sister-in-law Josepha Weber Hofer. The Met premiere was on March 30, 1900 (in Italian). Julie Taymor's 2004 staging for the Met is the basis for the company's new English-language adaptation of the opera, with a libretto by J. D. McClatchy. The McClatchy adaptation had its premiere on December 29, 2006.


A good beginner's guide through the dense symbolic thickets of Mozart's last opera is Peter Branscombe's W. A. Mozart: Die Zauberflöte, an especially fine entry in the excellent Cambridge Opera Handbook series. Peter Gay's Mozart is a good short biography of the composer (Viking); more comprehensive (but no less accessible for the novice Mozartean) are Maynard Solomon's Mozart: A Life (HarperCollins) and Robert W. Gutman's Mozart: A Cultural Biography (Harcourt).

The list of worthy Die Zauberflötes on disc is a long one, beginning with Thomas Beecham's brisk 1937 reading (Naxos), with the buoyant Gerhard Hüsch as its warm, human Papageno. William Christie and Les Arts Florissants's fleet, light-filled 1996 Die Zauberflöte is ruled by Natalie Dessay's sparkling Queen; John Eliot Gardiner's elegant Archiv recording from the same year gathers Gerald Finley, Christiane Oelze, Cyndia Sieden and Michael Schade. Of the classic LP-era performances now on CD, Karl Böhm's magisterial second recording (DG) boasts Fritz Wunderlich's peerless Tamino, Otto Klemperer's lucid, spirited reading (EMI), the corruscating Queen of Lucia Popp and the expressive, chaste Pamina of Gundula Janowitz.

On DVD, the 2006 Live in HD transmission of Julie Taymor's staging, sung in J. D. McClatchy's English-language translation, is available on the Metropolitan Opera's own label. David McVicar's 2003 Covent Garden Die Zauberflöte (BBC) fields a first-rate ensemble, with Colin Davis conducting Simon Keenlyside (Papageno), Dorothea Röschmann (Pamina), Will Hartmann (Tamino), Diana Damrau (Queen of the Night) and Franz-Joseph Selig (Sarastro). In David Hockney's production, from Glyndebourne (Arthaus), Bernard Haitink paces Felicity Lott (Pamina) and Leo Goeke (Tamino). Jonathan Miller's rather dour Zurich Opera Zauberflöte, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst, is available from Kultur. Ingmar Bergman's 1974 movie, filmed at Drottningholm Court Theatre, retains its breathtaking beauty on the Criterion Collection DVD. spacer

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