ACT I, SCENE 11
If you missed the beginning, all you have to know is that the Queen of the Night has promised Prince Tamino the hand of her daughter Pamina if he succeeds in freeing her from the clutches of her abductor Sarastro . . . We are now transported to a ‘splendid Egyptian chamber’ in Sarastro’s temple; three slaves inform us that Pamina has escaped. Unfortunately she has now been recaptured by Monostatos, who was supposed to be guarding her. It so happens that this cruel Moor also has designs on the young maiden . . .
Listen to the excerpt
Is that Monostatos?
Hey, slaves! Bring chains over here!
THE THREE SLAVES
Surely not for Pamina? Oh, ye gods . . . Look, brothers, he’s caught the lass!
SECOND AND THIRD SLAVES
Pamina? – What a terrible sight!
Just look how the merciless devil is seizing her by her soft little hands. I can’t bear it!
Nor can I!
And me still less!
You delicate little dove, just get in here!
Oh, what torment! What agony!
Your life is forfeit.
Death does not make me tremble.
I just feel pity for my mother;
She will surely die of grief.
Hey, slaves! Place her in chains!
My hate will be your ruin.
Oh, rather let me die,
If nothing can sway you, barbarian.
Now be off! Leave me alone with here.
The fact that many stage directions in the libretto begin with ‘Man hört . . .’ (We hear . . .) shows that Schikaneder wanted constantly to surprise and surely also frighten not only the eye, but also the ear with noises of many kinds. We could have realised these noises with pre-recorded or electronically generated sound effects, but historically speaking the imitation of such sounds was a task for the orchestra’s percussionist – and this was also the case in our recording.
Monostatos’s whip will startle the listener, while the screeching owl in the garden at night (II,7 and 9) is an invention of our own, intended to evoke the menacing atmosphere and Monostatos’s ‘black soul’.