The Magic Flute Gets its Revenge at Royal Opera House
The story of The Magic Flute, withholds a symbolism that stands the test of time, depicting some of the values of the Enlightenment that still resonate today, especially the triumph of reason and virtue over irrationality and evil.
Die Zauberflöte was an instant success with audiences, to the extent that even Mozart’s rival Salieri described it as an ‘operone’ (“a great opera”). Countless productions have mesmerised stages worldwide, portraying the story of Prince Tamino undergoing a series of tests, accompanied by the bird-catcher Papageno, in order to marry Princess Pamina.
Mozart wrote Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) for a suburban theatre in Vienna, the Theater auf der Wieden. He drew on the magical spectacle and earthy comedy of popular Viennese theatre. The power of this story also won the heart of filmmakers such as Ingmar Bergman — who made a 1975 film version for Swedish television — and Kenneth Branagh, who directed a movie in 2005, set during World War I with a translation by Stephen Fry, as part of the 250th anniversary celebration of Mozart’s birthday.
Most recently, David McVicar’s classic production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte) returned to The Royal Opera for its seventh revival. Embracing both the solemnity and levity of Mozart’s work, the production transported audience members to a wondrous world of dancing animals, flying machines and dazzling starry skies. The beautiful designs by John Macfarlane, the atmospheric lighting design by Paule Constable and lively movement direction by Leah Hausman, combined perfectly with Mozart’s stunning music. The setting provided a magnificent ambiance for Mozart’s prismatic score, from the Queen of the Night’s coloratura fireworks, to Tamino and Pamina’s lyrical love duets and Papageno’s hearty, folksong-like arias.
British tenor Benjamin Hulett led the cast as Tamino for this revival. Along his side, various artists made their Royal Opera debut in this production, such as French-Danish soprano Elsa Dressing as Pamina, Finnish soprano Tuuli Takala as Queen of the Night, (sharing the role with Greek soprano Christina Poulitsi) and German bass Andreas Bauer Kanabas as Sarastro, who also shared his role with Austrian bass Stefan Cerny, also making his Royal Opera debut, just like Filipino tenor Rodell Rosel playing Monostatos. Amongst the returning artists was Italian baritone Vito Priante as Papageno and Chilean soprano Yaritza Véliz as Papagena. They stupendously animated the stage with mirth, jocularity and earnestness, singing the praises (pun intended) of this timeless operatic artwork.