The Queen of the Night

The Queen of the Night

-Do you see this dagger? It is for killing Sarastro. YOU must slay him, and make the powerful Circle of the Sun mine for all eternity!
-But Mother...
~ The Queen of the Night and Pamina (before the Der Hölle Rache aria)

The Queen of the Night (die Konigin der Nacht in German) is the primary antagonist in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's famous 1791 opera Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute).

She is first introduced as the desperate mother whose beloved daughter was kidnapped, but it ultimately appears that she is the villain of the story, who wants to steal the powerful Circle of the Sun.

The role of the Queen of the Night numbers among the most famous in opera and her two collatura arias: O Zittre Nicht Mein Lieber Sohn (Do not Tremble My Dear Son) and especially Der Hölle Rache (the Infernal Vengeance) have become nothing short of legendary.


In more ways than one, the Queen of the Night can be regarded as an early symbol of a free woman, given that she claims something which she regards as her legitimate heirloom, but whose property she was denied because she is a woman. She strongly resents this, and is willing to defy the patriarchal order who denies her all authority by any mean she can. She can also be regarded as a symbol of ignorance, either one who covets the Enlightenment she was denied or one who wants to destroy said Enlightenment out of intolerance.

Role in the Story

The Queen of the Night is first mentioned by her bird catcher Papageno, when speaking to the foreigner prince Tamino, who has heard of her as a magnificent and powerful sovereign. Then the Queen's three maid-servants - who saved Tamino earlier from a gigantic snake - appear and show the prince a painting of their abducted princess Pamina. Upon seeing the picture, Tamino instantly falls in love with the beautiful princess and vows to free her.

A rumble of thunder then announces the Queen's arrival and the magnificent monarch appears, clad in night and stars, as if emerging from the Night itself. She then tells Tamino that her daughter Pamina was abducted by the evil sorcerer Sarastro, depriving her of all her happiness. If he were to free her beloved daughter, she promises that she would make her his wife.

The maiden then give Tamino a magic flute crafted by the Queen of the Night's late husband and Papageno (who accepted this mission if he were to meet a girl to marry) a magic silver bell, telling them to look for three young boys who will guide them.

Tamino and Papageno later get separated. The bird catcher manages to find Pamina first, rescuing her from Sarastro's moorish slave Monostados, and promises her that a prince is on his way to save her and to offer her his love. Meanwhile, Tamino discovers that Sarastro is by no mean an evil sorcerer but a wise and holy man, High-Priest of Isis and Osiris and guardian of the fabled Circle of the Sun. Sarastro tells the prince that he only abducted Pamina to keep her away from her mother's evil influence. It appears that the Queen of the Night sent Tamino to kill Sarastro hoping to get rid of her rival and get her hands on the Circle of the Sun.

Tamino then agrees to become one of Sarastro's initiates, in order to prove worthy of Pamina. Tamino and Pamina - who are now in love with each other- must then pass several trials before getting married.

Later, Monostados, who lusts after Pamina and laments that no girl wants him because of his dark skin, attempts to steal a kiss from the sleeping princess; only to be frightened away by the Queen of the Night herself, who sneaked into the temple alongside her three maiden.

The Queen asks her daughter about Tamino's whereabouts, and shows her true colours. She angrily reveals that her late husband was the previous owner of the Circle of the Sun. Upon dying, he told the Queen that he willed her and their daughter all his lands and riches, so that they would have all they need for the rest of their lives, but that she could not inherit the Circle of the Sun, which he willed to Sarastro. The Queen of the Night states that all her power is gone since her husband died and that she claims the Circle of the Sun for herself, in order to restore her former glory. She then gives a dagger to Pamina and orders her to kill Sarastro, otherwise, she would disown her and curse her for all of eternity.

However, Pamina cannot bring herself to kill Sarastro and she and Tamino succeed in every trial, with the help of the three little boys and the magic flute. While the two lovers are getting married by Sarastro, the Queen of the Night and her maiden enter the temple, guided by Monostados, who was promised that he would be given Pamina in exchange for his help. The Queen is about to destroy the temple when the sun rises, banishing the evil sovereign and her followers into the Everlasting Night.

Sarastro then enters, followed by Tamino and Pamina, Papageno and his wife Papagena, and all his initiates, praising both Isis and Osiris and the magnificence of love.