It isn’t easy to picture a more magical setting than sitting in the historical auditorium of the Royal Opera House as you listen to the overture, eagerly waiting for the curtain to rise.
Back for its seventh revival at Covent Garden, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) manages to retain the level of excitement and exhilaration throughout the three-hour performance. Needless to say, both the music and singing are exceptionally melodious, and the production lives up to all expectations, an impressive treat for both the ears and the eyes. The director also strikes a perfect balance between the solemnity of opera and the comedy inherent to the plot presenting Mozart’s masterpiece in an elegant and joyful manner.
The Opera follows Prince Tamino and Papageno’s adventures guided by the Three Boys to rescue the daughter of the Queen of the Night, Pamina. The cast is excellent, each with their own characterful and distinct voice that combine to form an enchanting whole. Every voice has a recognisable originality, be it its tone, richness, intensity, or depth. It is simply remarkable that the human voice can convey such complicated emotions and illuminate each character’s personality. Some of the standout performances were given by Vito Priante as Papageno, singing ‘Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja’ very cheerfully and lightly, suited for the role, for he is an endearing and injudicious character. Benjamin Hulett as Tamino has a firm and gentle voice, reflecting his nobility as Prince. The delicate harmony between the Three Boys are most clear and delectable, and Queen of the Night’s effortless ‘Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen’ by Tuuli Takala is also not to be missed.
The performance is enhanced by the magnificent set design by John Macfarlane and the details included in the costumes and props. From the serpent in the opening scene manipulated by over 10 actors, the flying machine that carries the Three Boys, the monstrous tree, to a grand sun in the finale, the large-scale set designs add the finishing touches to an already stunning performance. The playful direction by David McVicar also enlivens the stage. The unexpected entrances of Papageno from the Stall Circle seats, clambering over the separation to get to the stage, and his humorous dialogues with Tamino are especially vivid and convey the comical side of Mozart’s personality itself.
Perhaps, a slight twist and some innovative interpretations and approaches would have given the audience some unanticipated joy. Nonetheless, the technical and musical sophistication of the production is nothing short of phenomenal. Directed by David McVicar and featuring some of the most iconic pieces of music, Mozart’s last opera Die Zauberflöte is on its run from the 1st until the 27th of November at the Royal Opera House. The classic magical fable that you wouldn’t want to miss this season!