The priests, headed by Sarastro, decide that Tamino may undertake the trials in order to be admitted to their brotherhood. Tamino and Pamina bid each other farewell before his trials begin. The priests pray with Sarastro.
Two priests lead Tamino and Papageno to their first trial. The latter agrees to it once told it’s the only way he can win Papagena, the bride chosen for him. The priests warn both men of women’s wiles and swear them to silence. When the queen’s ladies appear and tempt them to speak, Papageno promptly forgets his vow. The ladies vanish as unseen priests shout that the temple has been desecrated. Tamino and Papageno are led to the next trial.
Monostatos attempts to kiss the sleeping Pamina, but the queen stops him. She orders Pamina to kill Sarastro. Monostatos threatens Pamina and tries to kill her when she refuses to love him. Sarastro intervenes and comforts Pamina.
Still sworn to silence, Papageno forgets his vow again when an old woman appears. She calls him her sweetheart, but when he asks her name, she vanishes. When Tamino plays his flute, Pamina rushes to him. Bound by his vow, he refuses to speak to her, leaving her in despair. Tamino is led to the next trial, as the priests praise his steadfastness. Papageno learns that he won’t be admitted to the brotherhood, but the birdcatcher’s only wish is a sweetheart or wife. The old woman reappears, warning Papageno that he’ll be incarcerated forever if he doesn’t marry her. Once he agrees, she turns into lovely Papagena. When he tries to embrace her, a priest chases her away.
Pamina attempts suicide, but the three genii stop her and reassure her of Tamino’s love.
Tamino is joined by Pamina for his last trial. After conquering both fire and water, they are welcomed to the temple.
Unable to find his beloved, Papageno decides to hang himself, but the genii stop him. When he takes their advice and plays his bells, Papagena magically appears.
The queen, her ladies, and Monostatos attempt to storm the temple, but sink into the earth amidst thunder and lightning. Sarastro proclaims the sun’s victory over darkness, and the priests offer thanks to their gods.