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Die Zauberflöte

Premiere 28 November.

Opera. In a world where man and woman are irreconcilable enemies, Tamino and his beloved Pamina struggle to reach each other.

Opera in two acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Pamina has been taken away by the great Sarastro, leader of a brotherhood of holy men, who wish to save Pamina from her mother’s demoralizing influence on her. The mother, who goes under the name of Queen of the Night, turns to the gullible youth Tamino to bring her daughter home again.

Die Zauberflöte, Mozart’s last opera, is a musically vertiginous saga with a clear-sighted vital solemnity, as heart-rendingly dramatic as it is comical and entertaining. Director Rikard Bergqvist, who has done a new Swedish translation of the work, produces a phantasmagoria about the young Tamino’s attempt to understand himself and the role he has to play.

Good and evil forces rage around and through him in a billowing landscape of notes, words and images. What is true love? And which sacrifices have to be made in order for it to triumph?

Watch a clip from the performance.

Tomas Sjöstedt is responsible for the scenography and costumes and the choreography is by Camilla Ekelöf. Tamino is portrayed by Mathias Zachariassen who has done a number of reputable Mozart interpretations and whose international career began with a debut at the Wiener Staatsoper in 1998.

Among the singers from GöteborgsOperan is Markus Schwartz, singing Papageno for the first time at The Göteborg Opera. We have once again succeeded in engaging the brilliant Mozart conductor Henrik Schaefer who has previously guested The Göteborg Opera in The Marriage of Figaro and Mozart’s Requiem.

Sarastro, costume sketch
Dancers, costume sketch
Papagena, costume sketch

Costume sketches by Tomas Sjöstedt.

Watch pictures from the performance.

Tamino and Pamina.

Mathias Zachariassen.
Photo:Carl Anders Nilsson.
Henriikka Gröndahl

Tamino Mathias Zachariassen.

Pamina Henrikka Gröndahl, soprano.

Rikard Berqvist, director and translator.

Bergqvist Rikard
Bergqvist RikardIngmar Jernberg

Rikard Bergqvist is a playwright, director and actor, trained at Teaterhögskolan in Malmö. He has worked at Malmö Stadsteater, Skånska Teatern, Riksteatern, Stockholms Stadsteater, Pistolteatern, Göteborgs Stadsteater and Norrbottensteatern. Rikard has played Birdy in his own dramatisation of Wharton’s novel and he wrote the musical Råttfångaren (The Rat-catcher) that was performed at Dramaten.

For The Göteborg Opera Rikard Bergqvist has written and directed the musical theatre plays Zvea – sånger från ett svunnet sekel (songs from times gone by) and Kråksång – ett litet lystet lustspel om livslögner och längtan (Crow’s song – a little lusty laughable lark about lifelong lies and longing). He was also responsible for the adaptation, translation and direction of the musicals Stop the World I want to get off (2004) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2006) which were both very successful. In the season 2007/2008 he directed My Fair Lady on the Main Stage and wrote and directed the rock musical Grymt! (Wicked) on the Skövde stage and the Small stage.

Markus Schwartz as Papageno.

Markus Schwartz trained at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and the Operahögskola in Stockholm. At The Göteborg Opera he has sung Masetto and Leporello in Don Giovanni, Don Magnifico in Cinderella, a mayor in Ödets makt (the power of destiny), the begging munk Varlaam in Boris Godunov, Waltner/Chinese/Crazy professor in K. Description of a struggle, Count Lamoral in Arabella, Baron Douphol in La Traviata, second Grail Knight in Parsifal, Doctor in Macbeth, the leading role in The Marriage of Figaro, Curius in Julius Caesar, Colline in La Bohème. At the European Cup party in Gothenburg during the summer of 2006 he sang Papageno in a short version of Die Zauberflöte at Götaplatsen. This season he returns in the same role on the ‘Stora’ stage and also sings Schaunard in La Bohème.

Watch a clip from the rehearsal. Marcus Schwartz, on the piano Rut Pergament.


Die Zauberflöte, a tough nut to translate.

Göran Gademan
Göran Gademan

Even though most operas are now performed in their original language, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte is still often performed in Swedish. The two most probable reasons for this are that it is a lyrical drama rich in spoken dialogue, and it is usually performed as an opera for the whole family, even the youngest members. A real translation classic is Alf Henrikson’s version that he made for the Royal Opera production of 1968. It has been used in a number of productions up until today, including the Ingmar Bergman film. However, in the production of Die Zauberflöte by the Göteborg Opera we have chosen to present a new translation, one bearing the signature of Rikard Bergqvist, the opera’s director. It might be of interest to take a closer look at a couple of passages and to compare the original German with the choices made by Henrikson and Bergqvist. But first let us point out that both translations were created to be sung, not to be read on a text machine. It was therefore necessary to make some departures from the original to ensure smooth accentuation, rhyme etc. A text machine translation that only needs to be read can be translated in a far more literal way.

Papageno is perhaps the opera’s most popular and well-known character. In the introductory song he presents himself as the happy, free bird-catcher:


Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja,
stets lustig, heisa hopsassa!
Ich Vogelfänger bin bekannt
Bei alt und jung im ganzen Land.

In this passage Alf Henrikson has, kept very close to the original, except for the fourth line:

A bird-catcher such as I, can not be seen every day (translated literally without rhyme).
All people know about me.
I catch birds with my warble.

Today, not many people know what a bird-catcher is. Actually it is not even a being, but rather a tropical plant that reproduces itself through birds and on whose sticky leaves small birds often get stuck. Rikard Bergqvist has chosen to make a decidedly freer translation and, moreover, to establish early on in the story the bird-catcher’s evasive adherence – man or bird or neither?

As a bird I fly so free beyond your wildest fantasy.

Am neither man nor animal but both of them and better still.

The Magic Flute has traditionally been a problematic work due to the view of women that was prevalent in the late 18th century – in other words it has been charged with being misogynous. This applies in particular to the way Sarastro and his company speak of The Queen of the Night. One part of the text that is difficult to get around is when Tamino meets the Speaker, who accuses him of being naïve for trusting in a woman:


Ein Weib hat also dich berückt?
Ein Weib tut wenig, plaudert viel.
Du, Jüngling, glaubst den Zungenspiel?
O, legte doch Sarastro dir
die Absicht seiner Handlung für!

Instead of claiming that women speak a lot but get little done, Henrikson chooses to place a snake on their tongue - possibly a Biblical reference:

You trust in a woman’s speech?
A snake does live on woman’s tongue, and you believe because you’re young!

Whatever now Sarastro’s deed, he has his reasons you can believe!

Henrikson does not avoid the misogynous aspect, and when Ingmar Bergman made his film he chose to change the first two lines to: “You trust in this woman’s speech? A snake upon her tongue does live”. Thus the Speaker refers merely to the Queen of the Night, and not to women in general. Bergqvist too has softened up these lines somewhat.

A woman is your reference?

My friend, a woman’s speech entices but your understanding denies this. Yet when your eyes are open the truth will stand outspoken.

Infinitely more examples can be found in this rich production but surely it would be even more exciting to form your own opinion at the premiere on the 28th of November?

Göran Gademan, Dramaturgist

From the Libretto.

From Act 1, scene 3 (finale of the first act).

When Tamino leaves the Speaker (soon after the last-mentioned quotation) it is as if the ground is trembling beneath his feet. What is evil? What is good? In whom can one trust? He begins to question his whole existence and the way in which he lives his life.

Mathias Zachariassen, Tamino.
Mathias Zachariassen, Tamino. Malin Arnesson

When shall I wake from my nightmare?

When you have met your true self, then endless darkness shall be day.

Speaker disappears. Tamino is desperate.

Oh cruel night, when shall I know what love is, where shall I seek?

An invisible choir answers

Now, soon, perhaps never.
Now? Soon? Yet perhaps never? An answer indeed displeasing! Say that she still lives!

Pamina, Pamina, yes, she lives!

TAMINO Thanks be to God!
My God! Then there is yet hope!

He gazes upon his flute.

Perhaps if you might play then shall your music solve my riddle, persuade the night with your being of light. Let it be! Help me see!

He plays and is spellbound by the sweet sound. The world around him is transformed, becomes light and beautiful and is inhabited by friendly, beautiful, dancing creatures.

A sound that caresses body and soul enchants the world.
The shadows of night are gone and over all the horrors the battle is won.
My magic flute helps me to see through all that blinds me.
I can feel warm winds.
My magic flute gives me love...
... but something is missing…
…there is something I have forgotten…
…perhaps something I have dreamt…

Suddenly he is seduced by the music and has forgotten his mission.
He starts to play again and suddenly remembers.

Pamina! Pamina! My love! Can you hear me?
Give me an answer!
How? How? How? Say, how shall I find you?

He plays a piece that is answered by Papageno’s bird whistle.

Hark! Papageno are you here?
Do you know where my beloved might be?
Pamina are you coming to me?
My flute, my flute will sing a song for you, a love song for you, for you a love song for you.


  • Genre: Opera
  • Season: 2009/2010
  • premiere: 28 Nov 2009
  • Last show: 13 Jun 2010
  • Location:

    Main Stage

  • Length: 2 hours 40 min. including 1 pause.
  • Info:The Göteborg Opera Main Stage


Conductor   Henrik Schaefer
Conductor   Finn Rosengren
Director   Rikard Bergqvist
Set and Costume Design   Tomas Sjöstedt
Lighting Design   Joakim Brink
Choreography   Camilla Ekelöf

Role list

Sarastro   Mats Almgren
Tamino   Mathias Zachariassen
Speaker   Mats Persson
Queen of the Night   Karolina Andersson
Pamina   Henriikka Gröndahl
First Lady   Mia Karlsson
Second Lady   Carolina Sandgren
Tredje damen   Katarina Giotas
Papageno   Markus Schwartz
Papagena   Eva-Lotta Ohlsson
Monostatos   Mattias Ermedahl
A Priest/First watchman   Ingemar Anderson
Second watchman   Peter Loguin
Spirit   Thérèse Andersson
Spirit   Cecilia Wrangel
Spirit   Sara Jangfeldt
The Göteborg Opera Chorus
The Göteborg Opera Orchestra


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