The story concerns Prince Tamino who promises the Queen of the Night that he will rescue her daughter Pamina from the enchanter Sarastro. He begins his quest, accompanied by the bird-catcher Papageno, to find all’s not as it seems.The work premiered in 1791, conducted by a 35 year old Mozart just a few months before he died – in many ways it was his final great gift to music; despite being an immediate hit (Mozart’s rival Salieri called it an ‘operone’, a great opera) few could have imagined the life it has enjoyed subsequently.
The difficulty with staging an opera as well-known as Die Zauberflöte lies in pleasing both aficionados and newcomers. A successful production must stay true to the opera’s odd blend of comedy and philosophy, while keeping it accessible to those unfamiliar with the work. Sir David McVicar, one of the world’s most celebrated opera directors, accomplished this with aplomb, back in 2003. His production is incredibly visual, often startling. Papageno is slapstick clown, Monostatos an erotic grotesque that could have been dreamt up by the Marquis de Sade. But the production is never fussy, allowing the music to dominate proceedings.
The score is typically Mozartian – a deceptively simple musical language, full of excitement and tenderness. For a taste, listen to the Queen of the Night Aria – alongside its vocal fireworks, musical wit, and dazzlingly frenetic orchestral accompaniment, it maintains a warmth. A bone fide masterpiece.
|What||The Magic Flute, Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
23 Feb 15 – 11 Mar 15, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Royal Opera House’s website|