how fast can you say ‘papageno’?

As we learnt in the previous post, (go here to view) The Magic Flute is the last opera that Mozart wrote and premiered in 1791. Papageno is one of the characters in the opera, known as ‘The Funny Guy’. Here’s a famous piece from the opera known as the ‘Pa-, pa-, pa Papageno’ duet, curtesy of Royal Opera House.

YouTube video

The name is of German origin from the word parrot (Papagei) and refers to someone who speaks without understanding, like a parrot does.

Maybe you would like to see the other characters in The Magic Flute? Here’s a link to a character guide to see all the other characters.

Image source – The Opera Blog

The Composer – Engelbert Humperdinck

Compiled by Callum Blackmore for New Zealand Opera in Schools Resource Pack.

Though Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921) wrote a great deal of music in a variety of genres, he is best remembered for a single opera, Hansel and Gretel (1893), based on the familiar fairy tale. Humperdinck’s musical style is infused with elements of the German folk tradition, but the composer’s primary influence was clearly the music of Wagner, one of the most famous German composers of the day. Indeed, Humperdinck worked as an assistant to the older master for a time, even providing extra music for a scene change in the premiere staging of Wagner’s Parsifal in 1882.

Written to a libretto by Humperdinck’s sister Adelheid Wette (who added characters and scenes to expand the little story to operatic dimensions), Hansel and Gretel was first presented in Weimar in December of 1893; it was quickly taken up in opera houses all over Europe, representing the perfect antidote to the more serious, realistic works coming out of Italy at the time. Although the work was written for children, the opera has always been popular with audiences of all ages thanks Humperdinck’s successful blending of a children’s story with his own, rather monumental, orchestral world.

(Adapted from

Watch the full opera of Hansel and Gretel here in a live recording from The Metropolitan Opera.