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The Magic Flute (Southampton & tour)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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This Welsh National Opera production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute forms part of the ‘Eternal Light’ Series and is imaginatively directed by Dominic Cooke. Full of mystic overtones and masonic symbolism, Die Zauberflöte is one of the composer’s best-loved and oft-performed works, and can be described as an operatic fairytale, and an allegory for the need to purify one's self before entering earthly trials.

After a rousing overture the curtain rises on an innovative set designed by Julian Crouch which gives the impression of being a self-contained “mini theatre” on stage, with a black surround emphasising the set with its internal warm and moody lighting, by Chris Davey. The use of a series of doors to define the scenes, and the use of trap doors for the temple scenes are exceptionally clever.

The first act is lively with strong performances from all on stage; Peter Wedd’s performance as the vulnerable Tamino sets the pace and with his comedic partner Papageno, David Stout lifts the production and lightens an otherwise serious story. Laure Meloy as The Queen of Night is fantastic in her portrayal as the dark scheming queen. The Three Ladies and The Three Boys are perfectly matched in their respective guidance for Tamino and Papageno, giving them a magic flute and bells to protect them from danger. As the lecherous Monostatos, Howard Kirk plays the part perfectly, ‘protecting ‘ the Queen of Night’s daughter Pamina (Elizabeth Watts). The Three Boys lead the duo to Sarastro, Tim Mirfin where Tamino hope to be united with Pamina. Sarastro punishes Tamino and proposes him as an initiate into the brotherhood.

The second Act sees Tamino and Papageno put through a series of trials to see if they are worthy to enter the brotherhood. Of course, righteousness and light will prevail, and evil defeated. With great performances from all the lead characters, the Queen of Night and the three boys, and the wonderful interpretation of the simple Papageno with his comic ways and strong voice, stand out.

The costumes designed by Kevin Pollard are both colourful and perfectly match the modern feel to the production, especially the identical costumes for the members of the ‘brotherhood’ and the monster, as well as the enchanted animals. And the orchestra conducted by Gareth Jones provides the perfect accompaniment to the story on stage with just the right amount of gusto and a sublime interpretation of those beautiful Mozart melodies.

A really enjoyable performance with a well-balanced cast, clever scenery, striking costumes and of course the beautiful score, makes for the perfect night out.


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