Premiere of this production: 07 Oct 2005
The performance has 1 intermission
Running time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Once upon a time there was a Star-blazing Queen whose power had failed so much that her daughter, Pamina, was abducted by a powerful sorcerer called Sarastro. This magician, head of a Cult of male initiates, held the girl prisoner in the hope of saving his realm from destruction. For Pamina was destined to bring the Chosen One, Tamino.
The Queen is the first to find Tamino. Saving him from a dangerous nightmare she begs the Chosen One to free her daughter from Sarastro’s control. Seeing Pamina’s picture, Tamino falls in love and accepts his destiny. To help him, the Queen’s attendants give him a Flute with magic powers. And since no hero should travel alone, the outsider Papageno, a bird-man with his very own magic Bells, will be his companion. Three Boys will meet them to show the way.
Sarastro’s realm appears just as the Queen described it; Pamina’s innocence is threatened by her guard Monostatos and only the surprise appearance of a strange bird-man saves her from a fate worse than death.
Meanwhile Tamino continues on his quest, resolute and determined. But an encounter with a wise man shakes his confidence. For the first time he experiences the darkness of doubt. He no longer recognises the world, nor knows what to believe.....
Seeing Pamina makes sense of it all, confirming the love he felt when he first saw her picture. But Sarastro will not release her. Tamino may only take Pamina in his arms once he has undergone Trials in which he must risk his life, and so been initiated into the Cult.
Papageno is excused from the hardest tests, but he too is told that he can only find his ideal woman, Papagena, under certain conditions. The words finally make sense to him when he is about to hang himself. In the face of death he finds his mate.
The Queen’s power is fading rapidly; the Stars no longer blaze — she is now only the Queen of Night. In her desperation she steals into the temple and learning that Tamino has joined her enemies, implores her beloved daughter to murder Sarastro. But Pamina cannot kill. Nor do Sarastro’s consoling words convince. As Tamino insists on excluding her from the most significant moment of his life, she is driven to suicide, only to be saved by the Three Boys. Reassuring her of Tamino’s love, they take her to where he obediently waits to face death.
But even here Sarastro’s power is limited. For Tamino learns from the Doorkeepers that the Gods mean Pamina to face the Trial with him; she too is worthy. With the help of the Flute, and as a couple, they triumph as one. Balance is restored.
The Queen is ready to sell her daughter to Monostatos if he will help her put an end to Sarastro’s rule. But her power is exhausted. She can only fail.
Sarastro announces the destruction of Night by the new-born rays of the Sun. It is time to re-build.
Photo by Yelena Fetissova, Damir Yusupov
© Bolshoi Theatre Libretto
on the playbill
1 Teatralnaya ploschad (1 Theatre Square), Moscow, Russia
Bol'shaya Dmitrovka Street, 4/2, Moscow, Russia