The Magic Flute

Synopsis


Act 1

Scene 1: A rough, rocky landscape

Tamino, a handsome prince lost in a distant land, is pursued by a serpent and asks the gods to save him (aria: "Zu Hilfe! Zu Hilfe!" segued into trio: "Stirb, Ungeheuer, durch uns’re Macht!"). He faints, and three ladies, attendants of the Queen of the Night, appear and kill the serpent. They find the unconscious prince extremely attractive, and each of them tries to convince the other two to leave. After arguing, they reluctantly decide to leave together.

Tamino wakes. Papageno enters dressed as a bird. He describes his life as a bird-catcher, complaining he has no wife or girlfriend (aria: "Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja"). Tamino introduces himself to Papageno, thinking Papageno killed the serpent. Papageno happily takes the credit – claiming he strangled it with his bare hands. The three ladies suddenly reappear and place a padlock over his mouth as a warning not to lie. They give Tamino a portrait of the Queen of the Night's daughter Pamina, with whom Tamino falls instantly in love (aria: "Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön" / This image is enchantingly beautiful).

The ladies return and tell Tamino that Pamina has been captured by Sarastro, a supposedly evil sorcerer. Tamino vows to rescue Pamina. The Queen of the Night appears and promises Tamino that Pamina will be his if he rescues her from Sarastro (Recitative and aria: "O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn" / Oh, tremble not, my dear son!). The Queen leaves and the ladies remove the padlock from Papageno's mouth with a warning not to lie any more. They give Tamino a magic flute which has the power to change sorrow into joy. They tell Papageno to go with Tamino, and give him (Papageno) magic bells for protection. The ladies introduce three child-spirits, who will guide Tamino and Papageno to Sarastro's temple. Together Tamino and Papageno set forth (Quintet: "Hm! Hm! Hm! Hm!").

Scene 2: A room in Sarastro's palace

Pamina is dragged in by Sarastro's slaves, apparently having tried to escape. Monostatos, a blackamoor and chief of the slaves, orders the slaves to chain her and leave him alone with her. Papageno, sent ahead by Tamino to help find Pamina, enters (Trio: "Du feines Täubchen, nur herein!"). Monostatos and Papageno are each terrified by the other's strange appearance and both flee. Papageno returns and announces to Pamina that her mother has sent Tamino to save her. Pamina rejoices to hear that Tamino is in love with her. She offers sympathy and hope to Papageno, who longs for a wife. Together they reflect on the joys and sacred duties of marital love (duet: "Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen").

Finale. Scene 3: A grove in front of a temple

The three child-spirits lead Tamino to Sarastro's temple, promising that if he remains patient, wise and steadfast, he will succeed in rescuing Pamina. Tamino approaches the left-hand entrance and is denied access by voices from within. The same happens when he goes to the entrance on the right. But from the entrance in the middle, an old priest appears and lets Tamino in. (The old priest is referred to as "The Speaker" in the libretto, but his role is a singing role.) He tells Tamino that Sarastro is benevolent, not evil, and that he should not trust the Queen of the Night. Tamino plays his magic flute. Animals appear and dance, enraptured, to his music. Tamino hears Papageno's pipes sounding offstage, and hurries off to find him.

Papageno and Pamina enter, searching for Tamino. They are recaptured by Monostatos and his slaves. Papageno plays his magic bells, and Monostatos and his slaves begin to dance, and exit the stage, still dancing, mesmerised by the beauty of the music (aria: "Das klinget so herrlich"). Papageno and Pamina hear the sound of Sarastro's retinue approaching. Papageno is frightened and asks Pamina what they should say. She answers that they must tell the truth. Sarastro enters, with a crowd of followers.

Pamina falls at Sarastro's feet and confesses that she tried to escape because Monostatos had forced his attentions on her. Sarastro receives her kindly and assures her that he wishes only for her happiness. But he refuses to return her to her mother, whom he describes as a proud, headstrong woman, and a bad influence on those around her. Pamina, he says, must be guided by a man.

Monostatos brings in Tamino. The two lovers see one another for the first time and embrace, causing indignation among Sarastro's followers. Monostatos tells Sarastro that he caught Papageno and Pamina trying to escape, and demands a reward. Sarastro, however, punishes Monostatos for his lustful behaviour toward Pamina, and sends him away. He announces that Tamino must undergo trials of wisdom in order to become worthy as Pamina's husband. The priests declare that virtue and righteousness will sanctify life and make mortals like gods ("Wenn Tugend und Gerechtigkeit").


Act 2

Scene 1: A grove of palms

The council of priests of Isis and Osiris, headed by Sarastro, enters to the sound of a solemn march. Sarastro tells the priests that Tamino is ready to undergo the ordeals that will lead to enlightenment. He invokes the gods Isis and Osiris, asking them to protect Tamino and Pamina (Aria: "O Isis und Osiris").

Scene 2: The courtyard of the Temple of Ordeal

Tamino and Papageno are led in by two priests for the first trial. The two priests advise Tamino and Papageno of the dangers ahead of them, warn them of women's wiles and swear them to silence (Duet: "Bewahret euch von Weibertücken"). The three ladies appear and tempt Tamino and Papageno to speak. (Quintet: "Wie, wie, wie") Papageno cannot resist answering the ladies, but Tamino remains aloof, angrily instructing Papageno not to listen to the ladies' threats and to keep quiet. Seeing that Tamino will not speak to them, the ladies withdraw in confusion.

Scene 3: A garden, Pamina asleep

Pamina is asleep. Monostatos approaches and gazes upon her with rapture. (Aria: "Alles fühlt der Liebe Freuden") He is about to kiss the sleeping Pamina, when the Queen of the Night appears. She gives Pamina a dagger, ordering her to kill Sarastro with it and threatening to disown her if she does not. (Aria: "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" / Hell's vengeance boils in my heart). She leaves. Monostatos returns and tries to force Pamina's love by threatening to reveal the Queen's plot, but Sarastro enters and drives him off. Pamina begs Sarastro to forgive her mother and he reassures her that revenge and cruelty have no place in his domain (Aria: "In diesen heil'gen Hallen").

Scene 4: A hall in the Temple of Ordeal

Tamino and Papageno are led in by priests, who remind them that they must remain silent. Papageno complains of thirst. An old woman enters and offers Papageno a cup of water. He drinks and teasingly asks whether she has a boyfriend. She replies that she does and that his name is Papageno. She disappears as Papageno asks for her name, and the three child-spirits bring in food, the magic flute, and the bells, sent from Sarastro. Tamino begins to play the flute, which summons Pamina. She tries to speak with him, but Tamino, bound by his vow of silence, cannot answer her, and Pamina begins to believe that he no longer loves her. (Aria: "Ach, ich fühl's, es ist verschwunden") She leaves in despair.

Scene 5: The pyramids

The priests celebrate Tamino's successes so far, and pray that he will succeed and become worthy of their order (Chorus: "O Isis und Osiris"). Pamina is brought in and Sarastro instructs Pamina and Tamino to bid each other farewell before the greater trials ahead, alarming them by describing it as their "final farewell." (Trio: Sarastro, Pamina, Tamino – "Soll ich dich, Teurer, nicht mehr sehn?" Note: In order to preserve the continuity of Pamina's suicidal feelings, this trio is sometimes performed earlier in act 2, preceding or immediately following Sarastro's aria "O Isis und Osiris".[20][21]) They exit and Papageno enters. The priests grant his request for a glass of wine and he expresses his desire for a wife. (Aria, Papageno: "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen"). The elderly woman reappears and warns him that unless he immediately promises to marry her, he will be imprisoned forever. When Papageno promises to love her faithfully (muttering that he will only do this until something better comes along), she is transformed into the young and pretty Papagena. Papageno rushes to embrace her, but the priests drive him back, telling him that he is not yet worthy of her.

Finale. Scene 6: A garden

The three child-spirits hail the dawn. They observe Pamina, who is contemplating suicide because she believes Tamino has abandoned her. The child-spirits restrain her and reassure her of Tamino's love. (Quartet: "Bald prangt, den Morgen zu verkünden").

Scene change without interrupting the music, to Scene 7: Outside the Temple of Ordeal

Two men in armor lead in Tamino. They recite one of the formal creeds of Isis and Osiris, promising enlightenment to those who successfully overcome the fear of death ("Der, welcher wandert diese Strasse voll Beschwerden"). This recitation takes the musical form of a Baroque chorale prelude, to the tune of Martin Luther's hymn "Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein" (Oh God, look down from heaven).[22] Tamino declares that he is ready to be tested. Pamina calls to him from offstage. The men in armour assure him that the trial by silence is over and he is free to speak with her. Pamina enters and declares her intention to undergo the remaining trials with him. She hands him the magic flute to help them through the trials ("Tamino mein, o welch ein Glück!"). Protected by the music of the magic flute, they pass unscathed through chambers of fire and water. Offstage, the priests hail their triumph and invite the couple to enter the temple.

Scene change without interrupting the music, to Scene 8: A garden with a tree

Papageno despairs at having lost Papagena and decides to hang himself (Aria/Quartet: "Papagena! Papagena! Papagena!") The three child-spirits appear and stop him. They advise him to play his magic bells to summon Papagena. She appears and, united, the happy couple stutter in astonishment. They plan their future and dream of the many children they will have together (Duet: "Pa … pa … pa ...").[

Scene change without interrupting the music, to Scene 9: A rocky landscape outside the temple; night

The traitorous Monostatos appears with the Queen of the Night and her three ladies. They plot to destroy the temple ("Nur stille, stille") and the Queen confirms that she has promised her daughter Pamina to Monostatos. But before the conspirators can enter the temple, they are magically cast out into eternal night.

Scene change without interrupting the music, to Scene 10: The Temple of the Sun

Sarastro announces the sun's triumph over the night. Everyone praises the courage of Tamino and Pamina, gives thanks to Isis and Osiris and hails the dawn of a new era of wisdom and brotherhood.

 

Program and cast

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March 2019 Next

London Coliseum

The home of ENO is the London Coliseum in the heart of London’s West End. Conveniently positioned in Theatreland, the theatre is near both Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square and benefits from the proximity of a number of tube stations and Charing Cross national rail station.
 

With the widest stage in London, it is a perfect venue for dance and performing arts companies. The glorious Edwardian architecture and interiors were magnificently restored in 2004, providing a beautiful auditorium and wonderful entertaining spaces throughout the building.  
 

 

HISTORY OF THE COLISEUM

 

The London Coliseum was designed by Frank Matcham for Sir Oswald Stoll with the ambition of being the largest and finest ‘People’s palace of entertainment’ of the age. 
 

Matcham wanted a Theatre of Variety – not a music hall but equally not highbrow entertainment. The resulting programme was a mix of music hall and variety theatre, with one act - a full scale revolving chariot race - requiring the stage to revolve. The theatre’s original slogan was PRO BONO PUBLICO (For the public good). It was opened in 1904 and the inaugural performance was a variety bill on 24 December that year.
 

With 2,359 seats it is the largest theatre in London. It underwent extensive renovations between 2000 and 2004 when an original staircase planned by Frank Matcham was finally put in to his specifications.The theatre changed its name from the London Coliseum to the Coliseum Theatre between 1931 and 1968. During the Second World War, the Coliseum served as a canteen for Air Raid Patrol workers, and Winston Churchill gave a speech from the stage. After 1945 it was mainly used for American musicals before becoming in 1961 a cinema for seven years.  In 1968 it reopened as The London Coliseum, home of Sadler’s Wells Opera. In 1974 Sadler’s Wells became English National Opera and the Company bought the freehold of the building for £12.8 million in 1992. The theatre underwent a complete and detailed restoration from 2000 which was supported by National Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, The National Lottery through Arts Council England, Vernon & Hazel Ellis and a number of generous trust and individual donors to whom we are extremely grateful.The auditorium and other public areas were returned to their original Edwardian decoration and new public spaces were created. The theatre re-opened in 2004.
 

The London Coliseum has the widest proscenium arch in London (55 feet wide and 34 feet high – the stage is 80 feet wide, with a throw of over 115 feet from the stage to the back of the balcony) and was one of the first theatres to have electric lighting. It was built with a revolving stage although this was rarely used which consisted of three concentric rings and was 75 feet cross in total and cost Stoll £70,000. A range of modern features included electric lifts for patrons, a roof garden and an Information Bureau in which physicians or others expecting urgent telephone calls or telegrams could leave their seat numbers and be immediately informed if required.

 

FINDING LONDON COLISEUM

 

Nearest Underground

Charing Cross - 0.2 miles 
Northern Line 
Leicester Square - 0.2 miles 
Northern & Piccadilly Lines 
Covent Garden - 0.3 miles 
Northern & Piccadilly Lines 
Embankment - 0.3 miles 
Bakerloo, Circle, District & Northern Lines
 

Nearest Overground

Charing Cross - 0.2 miles 
Waterloo - 0.8 miles
 

Nearest Buses

3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 29, 53, 77a, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176


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