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Sarastro, Who Are You?

Sarastro is the counterpart to the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Magic Flute. In this blog post, you’ll learn more about Sarastro and his role in perhaps Mozart’s most famous opera.

What you will read in this article:

Sarastro Briefly Introduced

Sarastro is a character in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute. He is the antagonist of the Queen of the Night.

There is a long-lasting rivalry between Sarastro and the Queen of the Night. At the beginning of The Magic Flute, Sarastro’s intentions are hardly transparent – he has kidnapped Pamina, the daughter of the Queen of the Night. Who is this man?

Powerful and Mild

This question is not so easy to answer. Sarastro rules over a kingdom, but he is more than a king. He is also a ranking priest who embodies human virtues and values.

Sarastro is thus exceedingly powerful. However, he uses this power with great leniency, as becomes apparent in the course of the opera.

Sarastro's Role in The Magic Flute

The central theme of The Magic Flute, as is often the case in opera, is love. Sarastro is the person who stands between Prince Tamino and Princess Pamina. Tamino and Pamina love each other, but Sarastro does not initially allow this love. This in turn has to do with the second central theme of The Magic Flute

…this second central theme is perhaps the reason why this piece has been one of the most frequently performed operas for centuries: it is about becoming a better person by overcoming trials. (If you’re already a die-hard opera pro, you’ll recognize an exciting parallel to Wagner’s Parsifal here…).

After all, it would be kind of boring if the love between Tamino and Pamina were just possible. Instead, Tamino must pass difficult tests to prove himself worthy of love for Pamina.

Sarastro announces to his priests that he has destined Tamino for Pamina – which is why he has also kidnapped Pamina. He assures the priests that Tamino possesses the virtues necessary to prove himself worthy of Pamina’s love. However, should Tamino fail the tests (and come to death), he will be rewarded for his courage in the realm of the gods of Isis and Osiris:

(Goran Jurić, Teatro La Fenice)

Later in the opera, Pamina meets Sarastro. She pleads for mercy for her mother. Sarastro reassures Pamina in his second aria by saying, “In these hallowed halls, vengeance is unknown.”

(Goran Jurić, Teatro La Fenice)

After Tamino and Pamina have overcome the final test together, it is Sarastro who marries the lovers.

Jonathan Stark – Conductor
Jonathan Stark – Conductor

Hello! I'm Jonathan Stark. As a conductor, it is important to me that visits to concerts and operas leave a lasting impression on the audience. Background knowledge helps to achieve this. That's why I blog here about key works of classical music, about composers, about opera and much more that happens in the exciting world of music.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Mehrzad Ebrahimiyan

    Hallo Jonathan,
    Ich bin Mehrzad, ein in Deutschland lebender Iraner.
    Ich wollte etwas über Sarastro sagen, etwas, das Sie vielleicht noch nicht gehört haben, vielleicht aber schon.
    Sarastro ist der Prophet unserer Iraner.
    Alle Iraner waren Anhänger der zoroastrischen Religion, bevor der Islam in ihrem Land eintraf. Danach wurden sie aus vielen Gründen und im Laufe der Zeit Muslime. Dennoch leben viele Zoroastrier im Iran. Ich bin auch ein Zoroastrier.

    1. Jonathan Stark

      Hallo Mehrzad,
      das ist sehr interessant! Vielen Dank für diese spannende Info!
      Viele Grüße,

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