Welsh National Opera – The Magic Flute At The Mayflower, Southampton Review


Reviewed by Mel S-W

What a bright, modern version of The Magic flute which was quite controversial to the hardcore opera fan!

I do love my theatre trips and look forward to my visits to The Mayflower. We arrived at the Mayflower after a quick journey from Bournemouth. I look forward to my visits to The Mayflower. The theatre itself is very opulent inside, but with all the bodies in there it was quite warm tonight. We were situated in the stalls (seats J28 & J29 located in the stalls) where it was very nice to have comfortable seats. The seats were located 5 rows from the front as rows A-C are removed to make way for the orchestra pit. It was great to hear the orchestra warming up and getting ready for the show.

Now, as I said, I’m a bit of a theatre fan and this was my first experience of opera and I didn’t really know what to expect. We were lucky enough to speak to Giselle from the Welsh National Opera before hand who told us that this was a good Opera to come to for your first time…..

So I hear you say, what is The Magic Flute about ….. Its a fairy tale of darkness, light, and about finding your way in the world. The show contains singing (there are subtitles at the top of the stage if you need them) and speech so in a way it’s a bit like a musical so a perfect introduction for me ….. And I loved it!

The show owns with Prince Tamino, who is lost in a foreign land, being pursued by an enormous monster. Three mysterious ladies kill the monster and give Tamino a picture of Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night, with whom he falls instantly in love. They tell him that Pamina has been captured by the powerful and evil Sarastro, and Tamino vows to rescue her.

With the gift of a magic flute and some magic bells, and the assistance of the bird-catcher Papageno, Tamino sets off on his quest. However, he soon discovers that nothing is quite as it first appears and goes on a mission to find his truth.

The stage is bright, modern and edgy with clever use of lighting changing it between the day and the night. The cast also move lighting around the stage to highlight certain scenes. The centre of the stage rotated which meant that the staging was able to change and move easily and seamlessly throughout.

With costumes, the day were muted yellow colours, (very sand landesk) whilst the night were more on the futuristic side. So dark colours with neon accents but they all worked really well. I think this version is quite different to what other audience members were expecting – it wasn’t the most traditional customary and staging that you would find in a Mozart opera however for me it was exciting and completely unexpected.

The chemistry between Tamino (Thando Mjandana) and Papageno (Neal Davies) was brilliant. I didn’t expect to have as much humour in the opera but was great to see between these two characters.

Julia Sitkovetskys voice was u believable in the Queen of the Night aria. This well known song was powerful with such a vocal range. Everyone was in awe and in surprised she didn’t get a standing ovation right after the song. A change in staging mean that the Queen of the Night was surrounded by a moon that shone whilst she was singing, quite spectacular. April Koyejo-Audiger as Pamina had such a stunning operatic voice, all the emotion and hurt was so cleverly displayed. And last but not least the puppeteers. They were on the stage for the duration, bringing birds and animals to life in such an elegant way. The birds were beautiful, made of light and bright material which the puppeteers did a great job of animating. Even the giant bird skeleton was able to come alive!

I attended The Magic Flute by Mozart not really knowing what to expect. I was really impressed by this adaptation, bringing opera into the 21st century. It was modern, edgy, humorous but most of all engaging. I was so desperate to see where the story was going. All this, with fantastic music from the orchestra (but it was such a shame they were hidden in the pit!) Bravo Welsh National Opera!

Rating: I would give the show an overall 5 out of 5

The tickets cost from £17 and was a very reasonable price for the tickets.

Tickets can be booked by visiting

Mayflower Theatre, 22-26 Commercial Rd, Southampton SO15 1GE

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