The Magic Flute

The Magic Flute – directed and adapted for Opera Anywhere by Susan Moore, performed in an English Translation.

A young man with a passion for books reads about a magical kingdom where ‘day’ and ‘night’ wage war against each other.  As he reads he is consumed by the story, so much so that he realises that he has fallen into his own fantasy world.  He meets the Queen of the Night and her mortal enemy, the leader of the Sun Temple, the mighty Sarastro.  The Queen and her Three Ladies charge him with a quest, to rescue the Queen’s daughter, the beautiful Pamina, who has been kidnapped by Monostatos, a henchman working for Sarastro.  Accompanied by the bird catcher, Papageno, the young man, Tamino, starts a voyage of discovery as he searches for love, truth and consequently a purpose higher than himself, with only his Magic Flute and Three Boys to guide him.

Marrying Mozart’s beautiful music with a witty script, this production celebrates the birth of ‘teen culture’ in a timeless coming-of-age story and explores the ‘other-worldliness’ which glamorous Hollywood brought to post ‘Blitz’ London.  After such austerity, Britain’s youth looked to the USA for new cultural influences in music, fashion and attitude.  Young women were beginning to challenge the confines of their role in society and young men wanted to reinvent themselves as the new matinee stars like James Dean or Marlon Brando.  Tamino finds himself sucked into the Britain of his imagination where gamekeepers wear tweeds and young women are prim and proper.  In his youthful innocence he still believes that good is good and bad is bad but, as we all discover when we grow up, in reality human morality is defined in shades of grey and nothing is as first it seems…

Will Tamino escape the serpent?  Will he save Pamina?  Will he discover the truth about the Queen and Sarastro?  All will be revealed!  Take a magical journey with Opera Anywhere‘s production of The Magic Flute at a venue near you!

Audience review of performance at Waterperry Gardens – July 2018… 

“The first time I saw Mozart’s The Magic Flute was at least twenty five years ago, a concert performance at the Proms.  I fell in love with it there and then and have never forgotten it.  I suspect, in a similar number of years time, my children will feel the same.

Opera Anywhere is a small company that presents operas and operettas in a wide range of venues around the country.  This time, the Magic Flute was performed at Waterperry Gardens as part of its summer season.  Before I even talk about the music (and art-wonderful live painting by Illustrator and author James Mayhew and his equally talented partner Antonio) I have to say what a perfect open air venue the amphitheatre at Waterperry is.

We brought three children, aged 7, 9 and 12 with us and had they been more fidgety, the gardens just outside the amphitheatre would have allowed them to stretch their legs. 

As it was, we enjoyed a leisurely picnic before the performance and they burnt off energy while the adults enjoyed the stunning surroundings.

Back to the performance.  The stage was set simply with two large boards onto which James and Antonio painted either side of a simple platform.  Really, this absolute simplicity was what was needed and it allowed the performance of the musicians and artists to leap into our ears and eyes.

And what a performance it was! Even in its cleverly adapted and shorter form, with a trio of instrumentalists (cello, flute and piano) replacing the orchestra, everything that makes The Magic Flute so wonderful was there.  Although my three occasionally missed parts of the plot (I explained that’s normal for opera!) the costumes and acting meant that they were gripped by the drama and comedy of it all.  The puppets that “played” the boys added to the accessibility without detracting from the experience for the adults in the audience.nt off energy while the adults enjoyed the stunning

My twelve year old will have looked deadly serious throughout, but it was just a sign of how her mind and heart were being filled.  The Queen of the Night did a wonderful job of those famously, inhumanly high notes and the emotional depth of the duets between Pamina and Tamino gripped my younger daughter in the way, at her age, you’d really more expect a Disney movie too. Wonderful throughout, from a group that incorporated clearly experienced singers with talented younger ones to create a balanced and musical whole.

And the art? Really, everyone should have the chance to experience painting to music.  From a deep blue, but blank pair of boards, the two artists conjured the serpent in vibrant yellow, deliciously simple birds, a weeping young couple, and, by the end of the first half, a menagerie of creatures, including, to Rebecca’s delight, a fox. All of this timed to the music and fitting with the mood at any given moment.  By precisely the last note of the first act, the two paintings were complete.

The second half saw two bright yellow boards replace the blue, representing the shift from darkness to light.  In similarly timed and beautiful fashion, the changing story was incorporated into the paintings.  Just as we were able to appreciate the work, it would subtly change.  Sometimes, it was hard to see how the final piece would come together but with the brushes in such experienced hands, no one needed doubt that the final pieces would be as delicious as those from the first act.

If we had a wall big enough, we certainly would have seriously considered buying and taking one home.  Unbelievable work produced in searing heat, in front of an all age audience? Who wouldn’t want that on their wall as a reminder of an unforgettable afternoon?

It was all just so very gripping.  The mix of comedy and pathos was well-judged and Papageno, in particular was comically interactive and even made use one toddler’s vocal contribution as a new part of the script.  On the afternoon of England’s quarter final match in the World Cup, incorporating “football’s coming home” into one of his solos felt entirely appropriate and my nine year old son who “likes football and opera now” really sat up and took notice!

All in all, this performance of The Magic Flute will be remembered and talked about by our family and the friends who came with us for a very long time” – Nicola Harvey

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