Reviewed by Deborah Mackenzie
The revival of the 2012 production is not to be missed! The Magic Flute is a ‘singspiel’, sung in an English translation by Kit Hesketh-Harvey with English supertitles. If you love music, song and drama interwoven with clever witty and funny dialogue and modern asides, this fairy-tale, almost pantomime, is a show not to pass by. I am not one who normally would choose to go to an opera, but my son who loves Mozart was excited and wanted to go. Scottish Opera has won me over and will be watching for their future productions.
Sir Thomas Allen (Director) took inspiration from Glasgow city’s famed energetic music hall history, the collection of William Hunter and his own childhood images of the shipyards on the Wear, used the Victorian industrial with a modern twist of steampunk. Simon Higlett’s curving set of wheeled spiral staircases and balconies rolled back and forth throughout the opera to reveal sliding doors at the rear.
The opening act began with Papageno (Richard Burkhard), dressed initially as a Victorian Showman, searched the audience and pulled out Tamino (Peter Gijsbertsen) who reluctantly and protested as he was dressed from his theatre attire into his princely clothes (a Clark Kent moment).
Tamino’s journey brought him face to face with a dragon and was rescued by Three Ladies, dressed in gorgeous black sparkly lit dresses. Their mistress, the Queen of the Night, promised her daughter Pamina to the Prince Tamino if he rescued her from the wicked Sarastro. He sets out on his quest accompanied by the birdman, Papageno and were guided by Three Boys, who appeared suspended gracefully from above.
Pamina tried to escape the clutches of Sarastro but got recaptured by his servant Monostatos and his slaves. Papageno who got separated from Tamino finds Pamina and they try to escape together.
The Three Boys lead Tamino to the temples of Wisdom, Reason and Nature, where he is confronted by a wise priest, The Speaker, where he learns that Sarastro is not evil as he had been led to believe but is the path to virtue and enlightenment.
Pamina and Papageno evade Monostatos and meet Saratro who invites Tamino and Papageno to undergo a set of trials to the brotherhood.
Sarastro’s order holds a debate whether Tamino and Papageno are worthy candidates to undergo the trials; they are deemed fit and their first trial is that they are sworn to silence. This part is so funny as Papageno just can’t keep quiet for more than a minute. He talks to himself to Tamino’s dismay. Papageno is desperate to find a girlfriend and meets Papagena.
Meanwhile, Monostatos eavesdrops on The Queen of Night instructing Pamina to kill Sarastro, he tries to stop Pamina but they were thwarted by the intervention of Sarastro who preaches forgiveness.
Pamina starts to believe that she has been rejected by Tamino because of his silence and contemplates suicide. The Three Boys appear, and she is discouraged by them from carrying out her plan.
Tamino is reunited with Pamina and together they need to undergo the final trials of fire and water to be welcomed into the order. Papageno is down hearted as he lost his Papagena, but the Three Boys remind him of the power of the magic bells he was given.
The Queen of the Night and her followers, The Three Ladies, plan the final assault on Sarastro’s temple, but again they lose and are vanquished by Sarastro.
Eventually the couples complete the trials set and have triumphed over the journey and they celebrate the enlightenment.
Throughout the whole show we sat captivated. The singing clear and the need for supertitles was not needed, this benefited my son who is registered blind as he was able to follow the story without input from myself. This whole production is magical, and we have relived many scene again and again through our conversation on the way home. This opera broke the mould when it came to what people preconceive it to be like – just as Mozart did in his time.
Tickets cost from £12.50 to £82.50 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Scottish Opera’s The Magic Flute is at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow from 4-18 May 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/theatre-royal-glasgow or call the box office on 0844 871 7647.
Theatre Royal, 282 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 3QA | 0844 871 7647