In this opera, the Queen of the Night persuades Prince Tamino to rescue her daughter Pamina from captivity under the high priest Sarastro; instead, he learns the high ideals of Sarastro's community and seeks to join it. Separately, then together, Tamino and Pamina undergo severe trials of initiation, which end in triumph, with the Queen and her cohorts vanquished. The earthy Papageno, who accompanies Tamino on his quest, fails the trials completely but is rewarded anyway with the hand of his ideal female companion, Papagena.
The Magic Flute is noted for its prominent Masonic elements, although some scholars hold that the Masonic influence is exaggerated. Schikaneder and Mozart were Freemasons, as was Ignaz Alberti, engraver and printer of the first libretto. The opera is also influenced by Enlightenment philosophy and can be regarded as advocating enlightened absolutism. The Queen of the Night is seen by some to represent a dangerous form of obscurantism, by others to represent Roman Catholic Empress Maria Theresa, and still others see the Roman Catholic Church itself, which was strongly anti-Masonic.
Sarastro - Kurt Moll
Tamino - Peter Schreier
Queen of the Night - Luciana Serra
Pamina - Margaret Price
Papageno - Mikael Melbye
Monstatos - Robert Tear
Sir Colin Davis - conductor