Dominating the skies is the Queen of the Night, with her three henchwomen. More grounded, but with a strong sense of the spiritual is Sarastro, into whose realm the queen's daughter, Pamina, has been mysteriously taken.
When the Queen finds the perfect young man to go to her rescue, the abduction proves to be not what it seems.
Listen out for the Queen of the Night's famously high notes, as sung by Elsa Dreisig
Undaunted Tamino goes in pursuit of Pamina, with the help – or hindrance – of the queen's fearful birdman, Papageno, and three boys with extraordinary powers – and voices. They are won over by a new way of living, and that only leaves Papageno alone. But not for long...
McVicar does not shy away from the magical elements of the opera and there are visual feasts aplenty in designer John Macfarlane's sets and elegant 18th-century-ish costumes.
The opera was first staged in 1791, three months before the composer's death, and its many joyful moments are balanced by a degree of solemnity.
The Queen of the Night, as performed by Sabine Devielhe in 2017. Photo: Tristram Kenton
In this, the sixth revival of McVicar's attractive production, Pamino is sung by the British tenor Benjamin Hulett, with the French-Danish soprano Elsa Dreisig as Pamina, the Italian baritone Vito Priante as hapless Papageno.
Coloratura sopranos Tuuli Takala and Christina Poulitsi share the role of the Queen of the Night, famous for its high notes, and Andreas Bauer Canabas and Stefan Cerny share the role of priestly Sarastro.
Leo Hussain conducts the Royal Opera Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.
There is something for everyone – and somebody for everybody – in The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute is a good introduction of opera for younger music-lovers – but it is quite a long haul, so be prepared to make the most of the one interval.
The Magic Flute is sung in German with English surtitles. General booking opens 9AM, Wed 7 Aug
|What||The Magic Flute, Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
01 Nov 19 – 27 Nov 19, nine performances; one interval
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|