6 October 2012

THE MAGIC FLUTE

I was excited to be invited down to the opening night of the ENO's Magic Flute at the Coliseum a few weeks ago, which I recommend seeing before it closes on 18 October.  Mozart's last opera - it premiered only ten weeks before the composer's early death and went on to become one of his most popular and successful works - runs for 2 hours and fifty minutes (including interval) and opens telling the story of a handsome prince Tamino, rescued from a serpent by three ladies who send him on his way to rescue the Queen's daughter, Pamina, who was kidnapped by the evil Sarastro, with a magic flute and bells for protection on the way.


Celebrating its 25th anniversary at the Coliseum, Nicholas Hytner’s staging hasn't disappointed since it was first shown in 1988, with The Times calling it 'one of ENO's most magical productions'.  A modern production featuring regional accents and colloquialisms - I'd never seen an opera with so much spoken dialogue - it's accessible and easy to follow making it a perfect introduction to opera for beginners.


I wasn't expecting it to be so comedic; the concept of a fairytale meets farce opera touching on pantomime is quite a new one for me.  Nor was I prepared for the second half to be focused so heavily on the Freemasons which I found, quite frankly, rather odd.  But it works.  As you'd expect from the English National Opera, the vocals were superb - especially in the famous Queen of the Night aria - with a beautiful set; live white doves, a forest, large bears and the two lead characters suspended from the ceiling in a giant birds' nest during the finale.  Currently half way through a limited run of only 10 dates, there are five shows left; if you're an opera fan, like Mozart or a culture vulture, it's a must.

Tickets from £77 for 6, 11, 13, 15, 18 October at 7.30pm
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