The Magic Flute Synopsis


A rocky country, trees and mountains; in the foreground, a temple.
Tamino, a Prince roaming in a strange country, is pursued by a dangerous serpent, and is saved from death by the three Ladies of the Queen of the Night. The Queen sends him a portrait of her daughter Pamina, who had been forcibly taken from her by Sarastro, high priest of the temples of Isis and Osiris. The Queen herself appears and promises Tamino her daughter’s hand if he can rescue her. Tamino resolves to save Pamina at any cost. Papageno, a bird-catcher, is chosen as his companion. The Queen sends a magic flute to Tamino and a set of magic bells to Papageno to shield them from danger. Three genii guide them.

A fine Egyptian chamber.
Pamina had been kept prisoner by Monostatos, a Moor in Sarastro’s service: she has escaped, but he has recaptured her. Papageno finds her. He tells her about Tamino, and they flee to join him, but Monostatos recaptures them and has them brought before Sarastro.

A grove, with three beautiful temples: "Wisdom", "Reason", and "Nature".
Tamino arrives at the temples in Sarastro’s realm. He tries all the temple gates, but is warned away. At the Temple of Wisdom he learns that Pamina is alive, but a vow of silence prohibits further word. He tries his magic flute: wild beasts come, but not Pamina.

Sarastro, who is dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man, has been aware of all that has happened. Wise and all-knowing, he has saved Pamina from her mother’s evil influence. Sarastro orders Tamino and Papageno to be led into the court of the temple to be prepared for the trials of purification. Tamino attracts wild beasts with his magic flute, but not Pamina.


A palm grove.
The priests assemble, and Sarastro informs them of the will of the gods, who have destined Tamino for initiation into the holy brotherhood, and Pamina for his wife, if he can prove his worthiness by successfully undergoing the necessary trials:

1. Tamino and Papageno are sworn to silence in a darkened room. They resist the temptation to talk to the Three Ladies. The Queen of the Night swears vengeance on Sarastro. Monostatos overhears and threatens Pamina, but Sarastro intervens and dismisses him forever from his service.

2. Still sworn to silence, Tamino does not speak to Pamina, but Papageno speaks to Papagena in disguise as an old woman, and she is transformed into a pretty young girl, his ideal female companion. Sarastro tells Tamino that he must now farewell Pamina forever, to her dismay. The three genii prevent Pamina’s suicide, telling her that Tamino still loves her.

3-4. Together they pass through trials of fire and water as he plays his magic flute. Tamino has proven himself worthy: Papageno has failed. While unable to attain wisdom, he wins Papagena when he plays his magic bells. The Queen, her Ladies, and Monostatos plot to infiltrate Sarastro’s temple. They vanish before the sunlight of wisdom and truth which shines around Sarastro, the three genii, the lovers, and the priests. Pamina and Tamino are ordained in the glories of Isis and Osiris.

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