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Papageno!

An opera based on Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Translation, dialogues, and concept by Roger Brunyate

Available for booking November 2016 through April 2017

Papageno! is a 55–minute condensation of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute for performance in schools (ideally grades 3–6). The main plot thread of the original is maintained, but the whole thing is presented from Papageno’s point of view, with the other characters as adjuncts to his story. Those familiar with the opera will note that the roles of Papageno, Papagena, Monostatos, and the three Ladies are virtually complete; Tamino, Pamina, and the Queen of the Night sing about half their music; and Sarastro and all the priestly characters are omitted. The roles of The Queen of the Night and Papagena are doubled by two of the three Ladies.

The story of the opera

In the opening of the opera, Prince Tamino is being chased by a dragon and is knocked unconscious. Fortunately, he is saved from being eaten by the Three Ladies, who work for the Queen of the Night. Papageno, a bird catcher, is also in the woods looking for birds and he stumbles upon Tamino just as the prince regains consciousness. Papageno eagerly takes credit for saving him, but the Ladies return and put a padlock on Papageno’s mouth as punishment for lying. Then they show Tamino a picture of the Queen’s Daughter, Pamina, who is being held captive by The One Who’s Never Seen. The prince falls in love with her at first sight and promises to rescue her. Despite Papageno’s protests, the Ladies make sure he accompanies Tamino in his quest. The Ladies give Tamino a magic flute and Papageno magic bells to help them in the rescue attempt.

Pamina is being guarded by Monostatos, an evil and slightly inept servant who constantly tries to steal a kiss from her. Papageno finds the princess, but they are discovered by Monostatos and recaptured. When Papageno plays his magic bells, Monostatos is put under a spell, allowing Pamina and Papageno to escape. Pamina and Tamino are finally united and decide to get married, but first they have to prove their love by going through several trials. Seeing their happiness makes Papageno sad, because he is in search of his own Papagena to love.

As one of the trials, Tamino must go a day without speaking to a woman. Three Ladies try different tactics to get him and Papageno to speak, but Tamino remains silent. The Ladies are sabotaging his quest because they, and the Queen of the Night, are actually evil, and The One Who’s Never Seen is a good wizard. The Queen of the Night appears to Pamina, angry that she and Tamino did not return to her. She gives Pamina a dagger and orders her to kill The One Who’s Never Seen. When Pamina meets Tamino, she does not know about his vow of silence. She begs him to speak to her, but he remains silent and she believes that he has rejected her.

Meanwhile, Papageno is approached by an Old Woman. She declares her love for him and asks if he will be true to her until death. He is put off by her appearance, but she removes her cloak and reveals herself as Papagena. Before Papageno can say anything, she runs away.

At the end of the day, Tamino and Pamina are reunited, but they have one more test to overcome, to walk through fire and water and come out alive. They bravely pass the test with the magic flute to protect them. However, Papageno is so upset at not finding his Papagena that he decides to end his life! In the nick of time, Papagena appears and they make happy plans for the future. The Queen, the Third Lady and Monostatos attempt to storm the castle of The One Who’s Never Seen, but they are defeated by the forces of goodness and true love.

Although Papageno! can be presented to audiences without prior preparation, we envision the possibility of further tie-ins. We are happy to send out a teacher’s kit that can be used in classes to prepare students for what they are about to see.

Cast and Performers

Papageno Taehwan Kim/Brad Testerman
Tamino Chuanqui Shang/Zhe Zhang
Pamina Simone Brown/Chang Liu
1st Lady Bailey Jo Hutton/Eun Hey Kim
2nd Lady YaYu Lee/Louisa Tringali
3rd Lady Katherine Estes/Elizabeth Sarian
Monastatos Tae Cha/Thomas Swain
Musical Director Eileen Cornett
Stage Director Catrin Davies