Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto: Emanuel Schikaneder
English Translation: Jeremy Sams
Director: Dominic Cooke
Revival Director: Caroline Chaney
Reviewer: Jacqui Onions
If you are new to opera then The Magic Flute is a great place to start. A light-hearted opera but with plenty of plot points to keep the watcher entertained. This production, by Welsh National Opera, is particularly filled with humour and lovely touches that make for an enjoyable evening.
Tamino finds himself in a strange land with a monster on his tail. Nothing here is what it seems and we follow him on his journey as he discovers who he can trust. His strength of character and virtue serve him well on his quest, ensuring goodness, light and love prevail.
As a piece, The Magic Flute is rather outdated in places and has some chauvinistic attitudes to good and evil but the Welsh National Opera do well to gloss over these and focus on the themes of light and dark; day and night. These themes are reflected spectacularly and to great effect in the costumes, designed by Kevin Pollard, with the chorus looking splendid dressed head to toe in sunny orange. It is a shame then that the set and lighting design do not reflect these themes in quite the same way, although the numerous doors and trapdoors of which the set is comprised do make for a brilliantly bemusing wonderland, befitting of this opera.
The staging is creative and quirky, making full use of the set as well as some interesting props and wonderful yet simple effects; of particular note is the delight of the brotherhood’s orange bowler hats appearing from under the stage whenever they convene, and the simple use of blue gloved hands to represent water – reaching out to drag you under. All of this keeps the audience smiling and engaged from start to finish. The attention to detail within this staging is superb and thought out to the last factor. Even something as simple as closing the trap doors is carefully choreographed and timed to perfection.
The whole cast are very strong and perform well together as an ensemble. Allan Clayton as the hero of the piece, Tamino, and Sophie Bevan as his princess, Pamina, win the audience over with ease and keep the watcher behind them throughout. Jacques Imbrailo provides theperfect comedy sidekick in Papageno, and Samantha Hay sings the rôle of the Queen of the Night with impressive vocal dexterity.
Overall a fun and enjoyable production.
Runs until Saturday 28th February 2015.