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Opera review Magical Flute at the Royal Opera House

The Magic Flute
Royal Opera House, London WC2

THIS is the sixth time that David McVicar’s production of Mozart's The Magic Flute has been staged at the Royal Opera House and there’s every reason to suppose it will be back again after this run.

The audience were rapt and appreciative throughout its winsome telling of what is one of opera’s most accessible yet plot-complicated offerings.

Against John McFarlane’s cosmic, new-age backdrops of surreal skies and huge suns, the cast find their way admirably around the temples and dark trees of the fairy-tale set, as well as through the musical and theatrical demands of Mozart’s enduringly appealing Singspiel.

Mauro Peter gives us a confident, self-composed Tamino to Siobhan Stagg’s more emotional and vulnerable Pamina, while Sabine Devieilhe as Queen of the Night and Mika Kares as Sarastro venture into the highest and lowest of Mozart’s vocal challenges with remarkable aplomb. Devieilhe, making her Royal Opera debut, received an especially rousing reception at curtain call.

Roderick Williams, too, is irresistibly impressive as Papagano, bringing to bear all his previous experience in the role to present us with a feckless, guileless birdcatcher whom we hardly feel deserves his rewards at the end.

Although Williams, one of the few prominent Brits in the line-up, is responsible for a good number of the performance’s light-hearted aspects — plenty of them trapdoor-related — there are many moments of well-wrought, if sometimes rather signposted, humour from other sources.

Conductor Julia Jones keeps everything moving at a fine pace and the movement direction by Leah Hausman adds a touch of deliberately artless naivety to what is, in essence, a childish story dressed up in adult clothes.

Expect sell-out houses for the rest of the production and for when it makes a return in due course, as it surely will.

Runs until October 14, box office:


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