The magic of Mozart

Magic Flute, English Touring Opera, Snape, April 18The Magic Flute, with its combination of sublime music and almost endless possibilities for interpretation is understandably a cornerstone of the operatic repertoire.

Magic Flute, English Touring Opera, Snape, April 18

The Magic Flute, with its combination of sublime music and almost endless possibilities for interpretation is understandably a cornerstone of the operatic repertoire. As it continues to engage and challenge performers so does it attract audiences and a virtually full Maltings on Saturday night was testimony to its continuing appeal. Equally important in the large audience, I would suggest, was the immensely hardworking and professional team that is English Touring Opera.

Illness forced a last minute change with Michael Bracegirdle taking over the part of Tamino. He did well overall apart from a few occasions when unnecessary over-singing produced some roughness of tone. An inventive opening scene had Tamino chased by a multi-human serpent rather than a manufactured one - totally effective and a fine use of resources. The Queen of the Night's entry was particularly striking with some slick business with her dress and Laure Meloy gave a highly respectable, if not perfect, account of her virtuoso aria. Paula Sides as Pamina was notably successful - her intonation was excellent, the voice full and focussed and her acting enabled her to encompass all the emotions of this great part. Daniel Grice as Paageno was engaging, lyrical and amusing with his arresting aviary. Andrew Friedhoff as Monostasos was suitably threatening and Andrew Slater a serious Sarastro. The Queen's attendants and the three boys gave spirited renditions throughout and contributed much to the success of the evening.

The production was well thought-out and effectively realised - the masonic parallels were clear enough and the different levels exemplified the progress of Pamina and Tamino towards enlightenment and knowledge. I was less certain about Papageno's construction of his ideal mate from lamp standards but the trials by fire and water were well conveyed. The orchestra, with a lot of notes to cover, played well under the clear baton of Paul McGrath. After something of an excess of libretto on screen on Friday there was nothing at all in the way of surtitles on this occasion. The quality of diction was variable but on the whole good enough to keep me in the loop.


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All opera lovers in this area (and beyond) are immensely grateful for the visits of this excellent company and look forward to their return on 13th and 14th of November with Handel's Ariodante and Flavio.

Gareth Jones

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