'Der Hölle Rache' Lyrics and Translation

The Queen of the Night's Aria from Mozart's 'Magic Flute'

The Queen of the Night during a performance of Mozart's "The Magic Flute."

Johannes Simon/Stringer/Getty Images

In the second act of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera "Die Zauberflöte" ("The Magic Flute"), the Queen of the Night descends upon her daughter's room in her father's palace. The queen would like to see her husband, Sarastro, dead. She demands her daughter, Pamina, be the one to accomplish this task. She gives Pamina a dagger and tells her that if she doesn't kill Sarastro, she will disown her for life.

Recommended Listening

There are many great performances of "Der Hölle Rache" on YouTube, but there are a few that stand out:

  • Diana Damrau: This is perhaps the greatest interpretation of this iconic role, and really, the only performance that truly matters. Diana Damrau's flawless singing and amazing acting paint the queen in her truest form: evil. 
  • Natalie Dessay: Though Dessay's acting leaves much to be desired, her impeccable voice, both nimble and effortless, shines brilliantly in this aria. My only complaint is that she performs it too sweetly. 
  • Edda Moser: Despite its "high-tech" green-screen video production, Edda Moser's powerful dramatic coloratura voice embodies the Queen of the Night more so than Natalie Dessay's. Moser's musical repertoire was expansive, but her role as the Queen in Mozart's "Die Zauberflöte" received much acclaim. In fact, her performance of this aria was included on NASA's Voyager I Golden Record.

'Der Hölle Rache' Lyrics in German

Der hölle rache kocht in meinem herzen,
Tod und verzweiflung flammet um mich her!
Fühlt nicht durch dich Sarastro
So bist du meine tochter nimmermehr.
Verstossen sei auf ewig,
Verlassen sei auf ewig,
Zertrümmert sei'n auf ewig
Alle bande der natur
Wenn nicht durch dich!
Sarastro wird erblassen!
Hört, Rachegötter,
Hört der mutter schwur!

English Translation

The vengeance of hell boils in my heart,
Death and despair flame about 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 oath!

History of 'The Magic Flute'

Mozart's opera premiered on September 30, 1791, in the Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna. The theater was occupied by Mozart's friend Emanuel Schikaneder's acting troupe. Schikaneder wrote the libretto for the opera and also starred in the opera as Papageno. 

When composing the opera, Mozart expertly considered his cast and wrote their vocal parts according to their own vocal expertise. Some voice parts are played first within the orchestra so the singer will know what pitch to sing, while others (like the Queen of the Night) are incredibly difficult to sing. Mozart's sister-in-law, Josepha Hofer, performed as the Queen of the Night, so Mozart must have been impressed with her vocal skill. That, or he despised her, as the Queen's arias are some of the most difficult to sing in the entire operatic field. 

After the first performances of the opera, it was clear "The Magic Flute" was an absolute success. By November the following year, the opera was already performing its 100th show.