Diana Damrau as Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflote

Many divas have tried their hand at this role.  No one can match Diana Damrau.  She is the Queen of Night.  She’s beautiful and evil and she scares the living hell out of you. Which is what the character is supposed to do.

When she comes at you  with those eyes you can’t help but cringe. She not only sings the part, she plays the part to the hilt and will tear the stage apart in the process.  Other women sing the role but they don’t act it.  Or vice versa.  Damrau does both to perfection.

I’ve seen Damrau twist arms, throw Paminas across the stage, force them to their knees and generally browbeat them into sobbing puddles.  If you’re cast as Pamina against Damrau’s Queen of Night then you’re plain out of luck.  You don’t have to act scared.  You will be scared.

Here are the song lyrics:

The vengeance of Hell boils in my heart,
Death and despair flame around me!
If Sarastro does not through you feel the pain of death,
Then you will be my daughter nevermore.
Disowned may you be forever,
Abandoned may you be forever,
Destroyed be forever
All the bonds of nature,
If not through you Sarastro becomes pale! (as death)
Hear, Gods of Revenge, hear a mother’s curse!

Poor Pamina.  Well, we don’t get to choose our parents. By the way, those are High Fs Damrau is hitting in the signature notes. And she’s so menacing and exudes such venom when she stalks Pamina across the stage.  It sends a chill up the spine.  She’s ready to devour poor Pamina.

Die Zauberflote is not a true opera. There are spoken parts in the production and a lot of idiotic Masonic ritual garbage.  But no one goes to Die Zauberflote to see that, they go to hear Mozart’s music.  I think it’s safe to say if you don’t believe in the Queen of Night character the entire opera suffers.  Some queens you can’t help but laugh at when you see them. They come across as clowns. You will never laugh at Damrau in this production.  She was made for it, and it for her, and it’s well known throughout the operatic universe this was one of her best performances as the Queen of Night.

Damrau retired this singing part in 2006.  Most opera stars sing the role and then put it away forever because it’s so hard on the voice.  Well, like I said, those are High Fs.  A lot of them.

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4 Comments

  1. I once heard a music professor wondering if Mozart’s mother was like his Queen of the Night! Now I understand why! Thanks for another great review that brings us right into the piece!

    Reply
    • I read somewhere Mozart modeled the voice of the Queen of Night on his mother in law, not because he didn’t like her but he wanted to copy her high pitched voice as she called through the house.

      It’s a wonderful performance!

      Reply
  2. I love this song. BTW have you seen the movie version of this done by Stephen Fry. The Queen of the Night rides in astride a tank wearing a leather jacket! It’s the perfect nightmare vision of the Queen of the night. The movie is set during World War I, directed by Kenneth Branagh, with a translation by Stephen Fry. I saw it at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006.

    Reply

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