"Der Hölle Rache" Lyrics and Text Translation

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

Ana Durlovski performs the unforgettable role of the Queen of the Night during a rehearsal of Mozart's 'Die Zauberflöte' ('The Magic Flute') at Seebuehne on July 12, 2013, in Bregenz, Austria.
Ana Durlovski performs the unforgettable role of the Queen of the Night during a rehearsal of Mozart's 'Die Zauberflöte' ('The Magic Flute') at Seebuehne on July 12, 2013, in Bregenz, Austria. Johannes Simon/Getty Images

In the 2nd 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 and demands her daughter, Pamina, be the one to do it.  She gives Pamina a dagger and tells her that if she doesn't kill Sarastro, she will disown her for the rest of time.

Recommended Listening

There are many great performances of "Der Hölle Rache" on YouTube, but when I want to listen to it or introduce it to someone, there are only a few videos I'll ever need:

  • 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's Golden Record.

German Text

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 of "Der Hölle Rache"

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 (you'll notice that some voice parts are played first within the orchestra so the singer will know what pitch to sing, while other's 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 of have been impressed with her vocal skill, that or he despised her - 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 it was an absolute success.  By November the following year, the opera was already performing its 100th show.

 Since then, according to the statistics compiled by Operabase, The Magic Flute has become one of the world's 4th most performed operas in the 2012-13 operatic season.