The quest for truth and discovery
Step into a land of mystery, magic and adventure. With a magic flute and a set of magic bells for protection Tamino sets off on his quest to save Pamina from the grip of an evil enchanter, accompanied by his sidekick the endearing Bird Catcher. Along the way he encounters unforgettable characters – from the mysterious Queen of the Night to animals that can be tamed by music. But as he overcomes a series of challenges, all is not what it seems…
The Magic Flute is an opera for all ages, with a reputation for being the perfect first opera. WNO’s new production takes this enchanting fairy-tale and gives it a modern twist. Set in a world of fantasy, feast your eyes on vibrant sets and costumes accompanied by Mozart’s sublime music and a witty story.
Order a programme
Explore behind the scenes
WNO’s new productions and new commissions are supported by the John Ellerman Foundation
Cast & Creative
Deep in the palace of the Nighttime, Tamino Prince of sleep, is having a nightmare, and is attacked by a monster that he cannot fight. Three Ladies-in-waiting to the Queen enter, bringing an end to the monster’s attack. They leave to fetch the Queen. Papageno arrives singing happily of his life as the Night Realm’s bird catcher. Tamino and Papageno happily reunite. The Ladies return and chastise Papageno. They padlock his mouth and proceed to tell Tamino and Papageno of the terrible kidnapping of Pamina. Today is the day Tamino must leave the Night Palace and go to the dread palace of the Sun.
The Queen of the Night enters and tells her own side of the kidnap story. If Tamino rescues Pamina, he will prove himself a true prince of the Night, and so can spend his life with her daughter. Tamino eagerly accepts the quest, and Papageno begrudgingly agrees to go along with him. The Ladies provide a magic flute, magic bells and Three Young Ones to guide them to the gates of the Sun Palace.
Meanwhile, Pamina is stuck in a science lesson in the palace of the Sun, learning the ways of the Daytime from her teacher, Monostatos. Papageno stumbles in - terrifying Monostatos and the class of Geeks. Papageno and Pamina reunite, Pamina wants to learn about the Daytime having spent so long in the dark. Papageno tells her that Tamino has come to rescue her.
At the Sun Palace gates, Tamino is still waiting to see if Papageno has found a way in. The Speaker stops him as he tries to advance. He explains to Tamino that there are two sides to every story - that Tamino only knows the Queen's side, and that Sarastro, the Sun King, might not to pre-judge and that he may not be the villain he thinks.
Pamina and Papageno are looking around for Tamino, but Monostatos and the Geeks enter and want to drag Pamina back to her lesson. Papageno plays the magic bells, and they dance away. A great fanfare heralds the assembly of the King and his Court.
Pamina apologises to her father for running out of her lesson, but she's really missing home. Sarastro tells her that she must finish learning all there is to know about the Daytime, then she can make an informed decision about where she wants to live. He is confident she will choose the enlightened ways of Daytime.
Monostatos has found Tamino. How is Sarastro going to punish the boy? Sarastro says punishment is no reward for bravery, which the boy has shown. Tamino and Pamina see each other for the first time in years. They clearly have a strong bond.
Sarastro puts forward an ultimatum: He can see the two young people care about each other and want to forge a new path together. However, Tamino must begin his learning about the Daytime.
The Spirit of Wisdom is bestowed upon Tamino and Papageno, and Pamina wishes them well on their journey of learning. They are taken to a cell to prepare.
Tamino and Papageno face the first task of the Sun Palace. The Speaker asks: what are they looking for? Papageno answers: Love; Tamino answers: friendship. The Three Ladies enter – they are furious with Tamino.
In the classroom Pamina stands up to Monostatos, causing the Geeks to revolt and run away with her.
Pamina hopes Tamino will learn and pass the tasks set him so they can be together. The Queen of the Night enters and the two reunite happily. But the Queen is angry as she has sent Tamino to rescue Pamina, not learn the laws of the Daytime. She explains that once, when she and Sarastro were together, they had a united power of the Night and Day. The only way out for Pamina is to destroy the Palace of Day.
Pamina is sad, she wants to please both her parents, and be able to live equally between them. Sarastro reveals himself. He has overheard but is not angry with Pamina, but he suggests this should prove to her the irrationality of the Nighttime. Sarastro admits things were better back when he loved the Queen, and they were honest with each other. The only way to live is to be honest and open. Pamina decides to go and find Tamino and tell him how she feels.
A Person brings Tamino and Papageno some water. They wish it were wine, and they both love nothing more than sitting in a country pub on a Sunday drinking wine. They wish they had someone to do that with. The Three Young Ones enter bringing the tools that Tamino and Papageno will need on this quest - the magic flute and bells. Pamina comes in and suggests Tamino and she should run away and start a new realm all their own. Tamino stays silent. Pamina thought she had a good plan, but now, even Tamino doesn't seem to want her.
Papageno is angry with Tamino. What a horrid thing to do to a friend. If he'd listened to her, thought about her plan, maybe they would be in a better place. Tamino exits to prepare for the next trial, leaving Papageno alone to dwell on the nature of love and society.
Monostatos finds the Queen of the Night & the Ladies - he tells them to come with him. He will fully support the destruction of Daytime only if he can have a place in the new Night realm.
The People of the Sun Palace are excited to watch the Trials of the young Tamino. The Armed men tell us about the two upcoming trials. Fire will illuminate the pathways of truth and water will cleanse the evil thoughts. Pamina hears this and realises knowledge is power. She will take the trials with Tamino. As she joins him, they realise they love each other, and want to always be together in the face of whatever comes. They triumphantly complete the trials with the help of the magic flute.
The Queen of the Night, Ladies and Monostatos enter and confront Sarastro. Just as a mighty battle begins, Pamina and Tamino stop them, and ask them to look inside themselves and put an end to their eternal fight.
It is time for Pamina and Tamino to strike out and forge realms of their own. They are crowned Princess of Dawn and Prince of Twilight.