Die Zauberflöte – The Magic Flute (In Association with English National Opera)

By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Translated by Kenneth Chalmers

ISBN: 9781847498052

256 pages

RRP: £9.60

Libretto in German with a facing literal translation

Die Zauberflöte had its premiere at the Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna on 30th September 1791, less than ten weeks before Mozart’s death. It has proved to be one of the most enduringly popular of all his works and has enchanted generations of opera-goers of all ages. In a fairy-tale allegory imbued with serious philosophical concerns, the opera combines ethereal music with earthy comedy to convey a message of hope for a better world.

In this guide, Nicholas Till writes about the background and genesis of the opera, locating it on the cusp of the Enlightenment and the beginnings of German Romanticism. Julian Rushton provides a detailed analysis of the score with numerous musical examples highlighting its many delights, and Hugo Shirley surveys the different and often bizarre permutations that the opera has undergone on stage since some of its very earliest performances through to the present day.

The guide contains the complete German libretto with a new English translation by Kenneth Chalmers and incorporates all the dialogue so frequently cut in performances. There are sixteen pages of illustrations, a musical thematic guide, a discography, a bibliography and DVD and website guides. The guide provides a perfect companion to opera-goers wishing to extend their understanding and increase their enjoyment of this much beloved work.


Die Zauberflöte and the Enlightenment by Nicholas Till

The Music of Die Zauberflöte by Julian Rushton

A Selective Performance History by Hugo Shirley

For a full list of Overture Opera Guides in association with English National Opera click here




  • [A] beautifully written guide… a fascinating and often illuminating study of a complex work, it’s well worth reading, whether you’re unfamiliar with Die Zauberflöte or know the opera backwards.

    Tim Ashley

  • Exact and graceful

    George Hall

  • Read it, go, be enchanted.

    Fiona Maddocks
    The Guardian

  • For everything you need to know, concisely packaged.

    The Daily Telegraph

  • Companionable – that’s the first impression given by these… Overture Opera Guides

    Opera Magazine

  • Beautifully produced and designed… they are terrific value.

    Rupert Christiansen
    The Daily Telegraph

  • The contentious issues of this fascinating work find an illuminating outlet here.

    Anthony Pryer
    BBC Music Magazine

  • This uniformly excellent series is indispensable for the serious opera lover, all the more so now that almost all the CD companies have abandoned issuing a libretto with their opera releases, and have such scant background information. The English translations are on facing pages with the original texts, and in all respects the books are helpful and compact, and interestingly illustrated.

    Michael Tanner

  • The first thing noticeable about these initial items in the revamped Opera Guides series … is how much more solid and attractive these volumes are compared with the old ones. Production values are up, with more appealing design, clearer print and much better paper, making these books altogether more shelf-worthy.

    BBC Music Magazine

  • Neat little volumes they are, handy for carrying around, clearly printed and well set-out, complete with libretto and translation, discography and a generous selection of illustrations.


  • Increasingly indispensable.

    BBC Music Magazine

  • I am delighted to see the return of the ENO Opera Guides, bigger and even more authoritative than before. There are authoritative new articles as well as several of the irreplaceable originals, the presentation is very handsome and a decided gain is the brilliantly chosen selection of production images, in colour as well as black and white. The Guides are an invaluable reference for opera lovers at any level.

    David Nice

  • These guides, so beautiful to have and to behold, mark a huge advance on their predecessors. I find them essential supplements, not only to ENO and Royal Opera programmes, but to recordings issued on CD which often come without scholarly documentation and a libretto. The performance histories … are especially valuable, and not easily accessible elsewhere.

    Hugh Canning

  • For anyone with a keen interest in opera, whatever their level of knowledge, this series remains a benchmark of quality and clarity. The content is serious, reliable and trustworthy, handsomely put together, full of variety and scholarship but always making the practical experience of going to the opera a priority. I return to these volumes again and again and find the updated and new issues absolutely invaluable.

    Fiona Maddocks

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–91) was born in Salzburg, and began composing at the age of five. His subsequent prolific output included the great operas of his maturity, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte and Die Zauberflöte.