From the archive
Scene 4: A hall in the temple of Ordeal
Tamino and Papageno must again suffer the test of silence, a more difficult variation this time: An old woman enters and offers Papageno a drink of water. Although it is forbidden, he engages her in conversation and asks her how old she is. She replies that she is eighteen years and two minutes old. Papageno bursts into laughter and teases her that she must have a boyfriend. She replies that she does and that his name is Papageno. Then she disappears without telling him her name. Pamina enters and tries to speak with Tamino. Since Tamino silently refuses to answer, Pamina believes he no longer loves her. (Aria: “Ach, ich fühl’s, es ist verschwunden”) She leaves in despair.
Scene 5: The pyramids
The Priests of the Temple celebrate Tamino’s successes so far, and predict that he will succeed and become worthy of their order (Chorus: “O Isis und Osiris”). Sarastro separates Pamina and Tamino. (Trio: Sarastro, Pamina, Tamino – “Soll ich dich, Teurer, nicht mehr sehn?”) They exit and Papageno enters. Papageno plays his magic bells and sings a ditty about his desire for a wife. (Aria, Papageno: “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen”). The elderly woman reappears and demands that he pledge engagement to her, warning that if he doesn’t, he will remain alone forever. Reluctantly, Papageno promises to love her faithfully. She immediately transforms into the young and pretty Papagena. As Papageno rushes to embrace her, however, the priests drive her away with thunder and lightning.
Scene 6: An open country
The three child-spirits see Pamina attempting to commit suicide because she believes Tamino has abandoned her. They restrain her and take away her dagger, promising that she will see him soon. (Quartet: “Bald prangt, den Morgen zu verkünden”).
Scene 7: A hall or room with two doors: one leading to a chamber of trial by water and the other to a cavern of fire.
Two men in armour lead Tamino onstage. They recite, in unison, one of the formal creeds of the goddess Isis, 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). Tamino declares he is ready to be tested, but Pamina, offstage, calls for him to wait for her. The men in armour assure Tamino that the trial by silence is over and he is free to speak with her. She enters, and exchanges loving words with Tamino (“Tamino mein, o welch ein Glück!”). United in harmony, they enter the trial-caverns together. Protected by the music of the magic flute, they pass unscathed through fire and water. Offstage, the priests hail their triumph.
Papageno, having given up hope of winning Papagena, tries to hang himself (Aria/Quartet: “Papagena! Papagena! Papagena!”), but at the last minute the three child-spirits appear and remind him that he should use his magic bells to summon her, instead. Papagena reenters, and the happy couple is united, stuttering at first in astonishment (Duet: “Pa…pa…pa…”).