Entertainment

An impressively magical magic flute

However, it is, of course, the glorious music of Mozart that dominates and allows the audience to forget all the misery of the weather and the real world outside the opera house.

We had five performances of David McVicar’s splendid production of this opera before the end of December and now he’s back for ten more after the New Year holidays. The story begins with the hero, Prince Tamino, chased by a giant snake, rescued by three maidens, then commissioned by the mysterious Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter, Pamina, who has been kidnapped by the seemingly evil and domineering Sarastro. . .

But it turns out that Sarastro is a good guy and the Queen of the Night is the bad one. In his search for him, Tamino has the help of three boys who from time to time fly above the stage offering good advice, and gifts of a magic flute and some magic bells that have the power to ward off evil.

Tamino is also helped, or more often hindered, by the company of the dastardly bird hunter Papageno.

As I said, it’s bizarre, but David McVicar’s production, which dates back to 2003, adopts a very wise policy of playing the plot very straight while augmenting the comedy with some brilliantly funny twists to Papageno’s contributions.

These include the introduction of a magnificently designed puppeteer-operated bird for Papageno to chase when we first meet him. I’ve seen this production several times and the bird chase sequences just keep getting funnier.

On this occasion, the entire cast fits perfectly into the spirit of the production.

The two lovers, Tamino and Pamina, are splendidly sung by New Zealand-Tongan tenor Filipe Manu and Austrian-English soprano Anna Prohaska, who also played their roles convincingly. Manu’s alto tenor voice was particularly impressive, but the real stars of the show were the Hungarian-Romanian baritone Gyula Orendt as Papageno and the Tatar soprano Aigul Khismatulluna as the Queen of the Night.

Orendt’s comic timing was impeccable, while Khismatullina’s high notes in both of her arias were astonishingly effective. Mozart really showed his brilliance in composing these shows and the way he delivered them was glorious.

However, despite the magnificence of the individual performances, the real winner of this production was the cohesion of the entire cast and the contagious sense of joy they conveyed. Even the Queen’s servants, the Three Ladies who rescued Tamino in the beginning, displayed a rare sense of unity, singing and performing as a distinctive musical trio rather than three squabbling individuals.

A flawless performance of a perfect production of a grand opera, and it was all a lot of fun. highly recommended.

Tickets (and information on cast changes): roh.org.uk or 020 7304 4000 (various dates until January 28)



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