Or, in the original German, ''Die Zauberflöte''.

The last opera WolfgangAmadeusMozart ever wrote (''La clemenza di Tito'' was composed after the Flute was started, but before its completion), right after he was initiated into the Freemasons; the libretto is thus rife with that organization's symbolism. '''''The Magic Flute''''' is actually closer to our understanding of a {{Musical}} than {{Opera}}: it is generally as seen as LighterAndSofter than, say, Creator/RichardWagner's ''[[Theatre/DerRingDesNibelungen The Ring of the Nibelung]]'', and deals more with the themes of ignorance versus wisdom and the virtues of love and family rather than the fall of the gods and the end of the world. Also, being a "''singspiel''," it has dialogue, not just singing. To make a long story short, this was the Mozartian equivalent of ''Theatre/JosephAndTheAmazingTechnicolorDreamcoat'', with which it shares a similar level of popularity within its genre.

The action starts with a prince from a foreign land, Tamino, chased onstage by a giant serpent. He faints in the face (teeth) of death, and so does not notice when three [[LadyOfWar Ladies Of War]] show up; the Three Ladies immediately swoon over his MrFanservice good looks and argue over which of them will return to report to their ruler, the Queen of the Night, and which of them will get to stay and, ahem, revive him. Eventually, they make the sensible decision that all three of them return, leaving Tamino alone again. (...Okay, sensibility rescinded.) Tamino awakes in time to meet Papageno, the Queen of the Night's royal bird-catcher, an eccentric fellow frequently costumed in feather-and-beak motifs. He sings a pleasant SidekickSong about his easy-going philosophy and [[IJustWantToBeLoved lack of love life]]. The Three Ladies now return and show Tamino the portrait of a PrincessClassic, Pamina, resulting in LoveAtFirstSight. Then the Queen of the Night herself appears and promises Tamino her daughter Pamina's hand in marriage... ''IF'' Tamino can SaveThePrincess, who has been captured by a guy with the ominous name of Sarastro. The Queen gives Tamino his [[TitleDrop Magic Flute]], Papageno a set of magic bells (both of which have the power to CharmPerson [[MagicMusic when you play them]]), and tour guides in the form of [[CrossDressingVoices Three Young Boys]], and sends them on their way.

In Sarastro's temple we find Pamina, who is being pursued by a ScaryBlackMan named Monostatos. Fortunately, Monostatos' bark is worse than his bite, because when Papageno shows up with his absurd costume, it's ''Monostatos'' who runs away in terror. He and Pamina link up and begin to exit the temple. Meanwhile, Tamino, StormingTheCastle, has gotten hung up at the front door. A servant of Sarastro comes out and convinces Tamino that the Queen of the Night has pulled a switcheroo on him: ''she's'' the BigBad, and Sarastro had Pamina kidnapped for her own safety. This opinion is reinforced when Sarastro himself appears on the scene and chews out Monostatos for his CasanovaWannabe impression. After Pamina has ''her'' LoveAtFirstSight moment and re-unites for the first time with Tamino, Sarastro escorts them both into the Temple as the act ends.

Once the {{Intermission}} is over, Sarastro declares that Tamino and Papageno will have to undergo some [[OnlyTheWorthyMayPass character tests]] before he can let Pamina marry. Tamino, in the throes of love, agrees; Papageno needs to be bribed with the possibility of a LoveInterest of his own -- one who happens to be named Papagena. The main test is that both men need to be silent when confronted by women -- which, of course, is PlayedForDrama when one of the women who visits them is Pamina, leaving the chamber with the conclusion that Tamino no longer loves her. Papageno also gets the {{Squick}} of his life when a really old woman arrives and declares herself Papagena, his bride-to-be. (Of course, she's secretly a hot young woman in disguise, which just makes Papageno even more paranoid once this is revealed to him.) Finally, Monostatos sings his [[IWantSong I-Want-Pamina Song]] and eventually {{Face Heel Turn}}s over to the Queen of the Night. She performs an aria famous for its fantastically high glass-shattering notes in which she threatens to disown Pamina unless she kills Sarastro.

Pamina, bereft of her beloved, decides to kill herself. Fortunately, the Three Young Boys intervene and take her to Tamino, who can now apologize; Pamina is so overjoyed that she doesn't even make him sleep on the couch. Next, Papageno attempts the same thing, only to be saved by the [[DeusExMachina Three Young Boys]] and united with his no-longer-disguised-as-a-squishy-old-woman Papagena. Finally, the Queen of the Night, Monostatos and the Three Ladies attempt to attack the Temple, only to be... umm... Well, ''some''thing happens that takes them out of contention. But whatever, the bad guys die a lot, and both couples have their HappyEnding as the curtain falls.

''The Magic Flute'' has been made into two movies (as well as numerous filmed stage performances). ''Trollflöjten'' (1975), a Swedish translation filmed by Creator/IngmarBergman, was a semi-surrealist, NoFourthWall fantasy which shows not only the audience, the stage and the theatre, but how the singers kill time while offstage. It is now part of Creator/TheCriterionCollection. ''The Magic Flute'' (2006), directed by Creator/KennethBranagh with a new English translation by Creator/StephenFry, is more traditional, aside from being [[RecycledInSpace set during]] WorldWarI.

Other adaptations include a ComicBook by P. Craig Russell with an ending that can be best described as trippy, a novelization (''Night's Daughter'') by MarionZimmerBradley, and ''Magic Flute Diaries'', a film about a performance of ''The Magic Flute''.
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!! ''The Magic Flute'' shows examples of:

* {{Adorkable}}: Papageno, particularly in the Kenneth Branagh film.
* AmazonBrigade: The Queen and her Three Ladies, before Monostatos does his FaceHeelTurn and joins them.
* BabiesEverAfter: Papageno and Papagena promise each other than they will have "a little Papageno" and then "a little Papagena" and "another Papageno" and "another Papagena"... etc.
* BetaCouple: Papageno/a.
* BreakTheCutie: Poor, poor Pamina.
* CannotSpitItOut: Literally. Or as Papageno himself puts it: "Mmh-mmh, mmh-mmh, mmh-mmh-mmh-mmh". Later, more serious version with the ordeal of silence, which verges on PoorCommunicationKills.
* ChewingTheScenery: The Queen of the Night is usually played like this, especially once she gives up the WoundedGazelleGambit. Her best-known aria pretty much ''demands'' taking a big bite out of the scenery, though.
* ChickMagnet: Tamino - just watch the three ladies squabbling over him.
* CowardlySidekick, LovableCoward: Papageno
* CreepyChild: Some adaptations make the three boys into this.
* DamselInDistress: Subverted with Pamina, and played (oddly) near-straight except for gender with Tamino, the designated hero, who enters screaming and swooning and has to be rescued by the three ladies. He gets better.
* DistaffCounterpart: Papagena, sometimes right down to the feathery outfit.
* EvilMatriarch: Guess who? (And in case it got lost in the coloratura display, she's abandoning a blatant opportunity to rescue her daughter, so that she can threaten her with ParentalAbandonment if the princess won't kill Sarastro for her.)
** However, she seems to have been an affectionate mother to Pamina until now -- more a matriarch who happened to be evil than mothering in an evil way. Sarastro took Pamina away more because he didn't want her turning out like her mother than because he thought she was going to be directly harmed.
* EvilSoundsDeep: Subverted, in that the guy with the lowest notes (Sarastro) is the good guy, while the gal with the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2ODfuMMyss highest notes]] (the Queen of the Night) is the BigBad.
** Definitely played with, though: Tamino and Papageno are initially convinced that Sarastro is the BigBad.
* FinalLoveDuet: Papageno and Papagena [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87UE2GC5db0 get one]].
* GenreBusting: Considered the first true German Opera, and completely discards the labels of Opera Seria (drama) or Opera Buffa (comedy).
* GenreShift: The opera begins as an ordinary fairy tale plot, but midway through Tamino's main goal changes dramatically from "save the princess" to "be accepted as one of the Freemasons".
* GodSaveUsFromTheQueen: Obviously.
* HappilyEverAfter
* HorribleJudgeOfCharacter: The Queen made Tamino think Sarastro is an evil tyrant.
* IAmSong: Papageno, with a large side of SidekickSong.
* InvoluntaryDance: Papageno's magic bells cause this.
* TheIngenue: Pamina
* InterruptedSuicide: twice.
* ItWillNeverCatchOn: Opera in ''German''? With ''spoken'' parts?
* IWantSong: Tamino wants Pamina. Monostatos wants Pamina. Pamina wants to be reassured of Tamino's love. The Queen wants someone to kill Sarastro. And Papageno just ''really'' wants to get married. Or at least have a girlfriend.
* LoveBeforeFirstSight: Tamino and Pamina. Tamino only needs to see Pamina's picture to fall in love.
* MacGuffin: the Magic Flute itself, which is only played a couple of times
** More importantly the Sevenfold Circle of the Sun. To acquire it, The Queen of the Night urges her daughter Pamina to kill Sarastro.
* MagicalFlutist: Naturally, and there are also magic bells involved.
* MeaningfulName: "Papagei" (related to English "popinjay") is the German word for "parrot."
** For that matter, "Monostatos" translates to "Stands Alone."
* [[LukeIAmYourFather Pamina I Am Your Father]]: Sarastro is sometimes played with this angle, [[DependingOnTheWriter depending on the director]]. Russell's comic makes it explicit.
** The thing is, the libretto has the Queen telling Pamina: "Ever since your father died, my power has been dwindling." She ''could'' be speaking metaphorically... but so much attention is given to her famous aria (the one everyone and their dog knows), which follows right after. Plus, the scene is usually shortened.
** So? [[StarWars Luke Skywalker]]'s father died, FromACertainPointOfView.
** The libretto states clearly that Pamina's father gifted the Sevenfold Circle of the Sun to the initiates on his deathbed, and that Sarastro wears it around his neck. The Queen of the Night is justifiably angry about it all. It would appear that the King may want to preserve gender-separation of the sun talisman (and maintain the balance of day and night) by donating the artifact to Sarastro..
* PlayingGertrude: Many a soprano sang the Queen of the Night first before later taking on the role of Pamina.
** Explanation: Men and women's voices fully mature at different ages (women around 20, men around 35), and different voice types work within different age constraints. Coloratura soprano roles like the Queen require an agile, athletic kind of voice, which is much more common in younger singers. Lyric soprano roles like Pamina, however, are more suitable for an interpretative artist, and that is much easier for someone with years of experience under her belt. However, lighter coloratura voices who take on the Queen of the Night role lack the dramatic fire which a Dramatic or Lyric Coloratura can bring to the part.
* PluckyComicRelief: Papageno/a.
* ScaryBlackMan: Monostatos is meant to be this, with a side of WhereDaWhiteWomenAt. This is typically subverted in modern productions due to the ValuesDissonance, turning him into a buffoon instead (which has UnfortunateImplications in itself) and/or giving him a RaceLift.
* TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness: Sarastro and his priests.
* VillainSong: Again, "Der Hölle Rache".
* [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotAllegorical What do you mean, it's not allegorical?}}: Tamino is the human soul seeking enlightenment; Pamina is the Spirit of Enlightenment; the Queen of the Night is the Roman Catholic Church; Sarastro is Freemasonry. The Spirit of Enlightenment originally lived with the Church, but when the Church became more interested in power and wealth than the pursuit of wisdom, it was taken from her and went to live with the Freemasons.
* WoundedGazelleGambit: How the Queen of the Night manages to convince Tamino that Sarastro is a villain, and that she is a poor grieving mother (Though, in fact, she is a poor grieving mother whose husband has died, whose daughter has been kidnapped, and is finding herself powerless).
* WriteWhoYouKnow: It's common belief that Mozart wrote Papageno, a cheerful, [[AttentionDeficitOohShiny easily-distracted]] fellow who falls in love with any woman he meets, based directly on himself.
** Alternately, he was based on Mozart's friend Emanuel Schikaneder, whom Mozart personally described almost word for word as Papageno is normally played... and who originated the part on stage.
** And the role of The Queen was originally played by Mozart's sister-in-law Josepha Weber, who, according to Mozart, was a cold and unpleasant person and only needed to "play herself".
*** In [[Amadeus]] there's a memorable scene in which Mozart's [[mother-in-law-from-Hell]] is telling him off and in the midst of her tirade she turns into the Queen of the Night.
** In a more musical example, Sarastro's vocal lines are quite simple, making the role accessible to a larger number of deep-voiced men, who are something of a minority to begin with. (It isn't known if Mozart wrote this way ''because'' all he had to hand was a bumbling James Earl Jones, but production managers have been thanking him ever since.)
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