Richard Studer, Director/Designer on The Magic Flute
There is no other opera in the repertoire that appeals to the child within all of us quite like Mozart's 'The Magic Flute'.
This new production for Mid Wales Opera unashamedly embraces the fun of Schikaneder's original script (the actor/manager who commissioned Mozart to compose the music and starred as the first Papageno). The production was conceived as a light entertainment for Schikaneder's theatre audiences, over the years they has been a never-ending quest to find deep and hidden meaning in the work and this can lead to an overly reverent treatment of the score making for a somber evening - but not in this production! Mozart's music is without question sublime but like Verdi's Falstaff it needs to be set aside from his more familiar output. The Magic Flute is a 'one off' amidst Mozart’s operas and let’s celebrate it for what it is - a fantastical concoction of Music, comedy, pantomime and above all else - Magic.
The story in the 'Flute' is in many ways a spaghetti western - a classic 'quest' drama splattered with comedic elements where the goodies triumph over the inept baddies led by the evil Queen of the Night. In the hands of Spielberg it would probably be titled 'Prince Tamino and the Temple of Sarastro' with Harrison Ford taking the role of the Prince.
As a child I watched Ingmar Bergman's film of the opera (credited as one of the best representations of opera on film) - Like Mozart, Bergman was also working in a field outside his standard genre and similarly produced a masterpiece. The impact of this film has stayed within me throughout my career, Bergmans lightness of touch and avoidance of anything other than presenting the piece as a an enchanted 'fairy tale' makes the opera shine in its original form. The film was released in France as 'la flute enchantee' and enchanting it is - It certainly captured this seven year olds imagination and led to a career working with opera.
This production in many ways honours Schikaneder, let’s not forget that though the pyrotechnics of the Queen of the Nights arias may be the most oft repeated element of the opera it is the role of Papageno, the rough hewn comedian who delivers the show’s laughs in abundance.
MWO look forward to welcoming children of all ages from eight to eighty to celebrate this sublime opera with us but above all bring your kids and grandkids - it’s a perfect introduction and not an experience to fear (apart from possibly the Dragon in the opening scene!).
Mid Wales Opera will be bringing The Magic Flute to The Riverfront, Newport on Thursday 4 May, to book online or for more info click on this link...