Lost in a distant land, Prince Tamino is pursued by a serpent. He faints after asking the god to save his life. Three ladies in the service of the Queen of the Night appear and save Tamino from the creature. Tamino wakes up after the ladies have left. Bird-catcher Papageno appears and boasts to Tamino that it was he who killed the serpent and saved him. The three ladies then reappear to punish Papageno for lying. They also give Tamino a portrait of the Queen’s daughter, Pamina, who is being enslaved by the evil Sarastro. Tamino falls in love right away with the girl’s portrait.
Suddenly, the Queen of the Night appears. She tells Tamino to rescue her daughter from Sarastro and she will reward him by letting Pamina marry him. Three ladies then give Tamino a magic flute which has the power to change sorrow into joy. They also give Papageno silver bells for protection whilst accompanying Tamino on the journey. Three spirits are sent to guide them.
The two arrive at Sarastro’s temple, Papageno is sent to search for Pamina. Sarastro’s slave Monostatos is pursuing Pamina. Papageno appears to scare him away. He tells Pamina that Tamino is in love with her and will save her from Sarastro. Meanwhile, Tamino learnt that the Queen of the Night is evil instead of Sarastro. He plays his magic flute to charm the animals while following the sound of Papageno’s pipes.
On the other hand, Papageno and Pamina are searching for Tamino through the sound of the magic flute. Papageno plays his bells to charm Monostatos and his slaves who are pursuing them. Sarastro enters and announces that Tamino must undergo trials of wisdom in order to become worthy as Pamina’s husband. The first trial is silence, Tamino and Papageno vow to remain silent in any circumstances. Meanwhile, Monostatos is about to kiss the sleeping Pamina, but he hides away as the Queen of the night appears. She hands a dagger to Pamina and orders her to kill Sarastro with it. She threatens to disown Pamina if she refuses the order.
During the trial, Papageno complains about thirst. An old lady delivers the water and flirts with him until they were interrupted by the thunder. Sarastro sends the three spirits to return the magic flute and the silver bells, along with a table of food for Papageno. Tamino remains silent and completes the first trial. Tamino and Pamina reunite to undergo the remaining trials at the chambers of fire and water with the help of the magic flute that keeps them safe.
The Queen of the Night, her three ladies, and the traitorous Monostatos attempt to destroy the temple. However, they are defeated by the power of the temple. Sarastro blesses Pamina and Tamino while all join in celebrating the triumph of courage, virtue, and wisdom.