After vanquishing the mighty dragon, the three ladies need to choose who will stay with the handsome prince, while the others go off to tell the queen that Tamino was saved. Of course each of the ladies wishes to send off the others, so she might stay alone with the young prince.
LIBRETTO - ACT ONE
The scene is rocky, here and there overgrown with trees, on both sides are smallish hills; there is also a round temple. Tamino descends from a rock to the right, in splendid Japanese hunting-costume, carrying a bow but no arrows; a serpent pursues him.
Help me! oh, help me! or I am lost,
condemned as sacrifice to the cunning serpent –
Merciful gods! It’s coming closer!
Ah! save me, ah! defend me!
(He faints; immediately the door to the temple
opens; three veiled ladies come out, each carrying
a silver spear.)
THE THREE LADIES
Die, monster, by our power!
Victory! Victory! Accomplished
is the heroic deed! He is free,
thanks to our bravery.
FIRST LADY (observing him)
A pleasing youth, gentle and fair!
The fairest I have ever seen.
Yes, that’s true, pretty as a picture.
If I ever gave my heart away,
it could be to none but this youth.
Let us hasten to our Queen
and report this news to her.
Perhaps this handsome man
can restore her peace of mind.
You go and tell her, then;
meanwhile, I’ll stay here. –
No, no, you go ahead;
I’ll keep watch over him!
No, no, that may not be;
I’ll protect him!
Meanwhile, I’ll stay here...
I’ll keep watch over him...
I’ll protect him myself...
...I’ll keep watch...
...I’ll protect him...
ALL THREE (each to herself)
Then I must go! Aha, very nice!
They want to be alone with him.
No, no, that’s out of the question!
What would I not give
to live with this youth!
If only I had him to myself!
Still no one goes; it is not to be.
I had better go.
O youth so fair and loveable,
O faithful youth, farewell
until I see thee again.
(The Ladies depart. Tamino comes to, and sees
the dead serpent at his feet; but hearing someone
else approach, he hides.)