Papagena, a setting by Emanuel Schikaneder, was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1791 (G Major) and premiered the same year. This aria is part of Act II of the opera, die Zauberflöte.
Mozart wrote die Zauberflöte in 1791, aged 36, at the peak of his creativity. Sadly enough, this would be his last one, as he died a few months later. This singspiel opera (sang and spoken German) is the successful outcome of his collaboration with Emanuel Schikaneder’s theatrical troupe, resident company at the Theater auf der Wieden.
Act I opens on Tamino, a handsome prince, pursued by a dragon. As he faints, three ladies kill the monster. They find him very attractive so they try to convince the other two to leave them alone with him. They do not manage to agree and leave all together.
As Tamino wakes up, Papageno enters and Tamino is led to believe he saved his life by killing the beast. He accepts Tamino’s praise much to the dismay of the three ladies who suddenly reappear. They bring Tamino gifts and a portrait of Pamina, the Queen of the Night’s daughter, captured by Sarastro. Tamino falls in love with her and promises to rescue her. The Queen of the Night appears and tells him, Pamina will be his, if he saves her.
Scene 2 opens on Saratro’s palace where Pamina is dragged in by Sarastro’s slaves. Papageno, sent ahead by Tamino appears and announces to Pamina that her mother has sent Tamino to rescue her. Pamina rejoices to that thought and they reflect on the joy of marital life.
In scene 3, Tamino, led by three child-spirits arrives at the temple where he is greeted by an old priest who tell him Sarastro is benevolent and does not want to harm anyone. He sets off to find Papageno and Pamina.
Papageno and Pamina are also searching for Tamino when they meet Sarastro and his crowd of followers. Pamina confesses everything to Sarastro and he assures her, he only wishes for her to be happy. He refuses to let her return to her mother, who has a bad influence on those around her and says she needs to be guided by a man. Monostatos enters, having captured Tamino. As the two lovers, Tamino and Pamina meet for the first time, it is love at first sight. Sarastro enounces, Tamino must succeed in different trials before he can be with Pamina.
Act II opens on Sarastro telling the priests, Tamino is ready to undergo the ordeals. As Tamino and Papageno follow the two priests for their first trial, they are advised to remain silent whatever happens. The three ladies appear and try to persuade the two men to speak to them. Papageno answers but Tamino refuses to and remains silent.
The scene changes and while Pamina is sleeping, Monostatos approaches and intends to kiss her. The Queen of the Night appears and hands Pamina a knife, giving her the order to kill Sarastro. Monostatos reappears and tries to take advantage of Pamina but Sarastro saves her. Pamina begs him to forgive her mother and he does.
Scene 4 opens on Tamino and Papageno who must remain silent. Papageno complains of thirst and an old woman enters and offers him water. She tells him she has a boyfriend named Papageno and disappears. Tamino starts playing the flute that summons Pamina. She arrives and tries to speak to him but he respects his vow of silence. She is filled with desperation at the thought he might not love her anymore.
In scene 5, the priests rejoice of Tamino’s accomplishments so far and Sarastro hopes he will continue to succeed. Sarastro asks Pamina and Tamino to bid each other farewell and Papageno enters as they exit. He tells the priests how much he longs for a wife in his aria and an old woman suddenly appears. She forces him into promising to marry her and transforms in a beautiful woman, Papagena.
Pamina, on the other hand is thinking of suiciding herself as she believes Tamino doesn’t love her anymore, but the three children-spirits stop her.
In scene 7, Tamino is declared ready to be tested and he is released of his vow of silence. Pamina appears and declares she will accompany him on his remaining trials. She gives him the magic flute and together they succeed in surmounting all obstacles.
Scene 8 opens on Papageno, having lost Papagena and desperately looking for her. He expresses his despair and resolves to hang himself in his aria: Papagena!