An absolutely delightful production of Mozart’s enlightenment and redemption opera “The magic Flute” at English National Opera. A wonderfully thoughtful and witty translation of Emanuel Schikaneder’s frequently clumsy German text, great staging which brings out lightness, humour and the story of good and bad, love and desire to live in a very balanced way. Beautiful singing by Pamina (Elena Xanthoudakis), Tamino (Robert McPherson), Papageno (Duncan Rock), the Queen of the Night (Kathrin Lewek), Monostatos (Adrian Thomson), the Three Ladies and the Three Boys, the whole excellence only slightly marred by Sarastro (Robert Lloyd), who seemed to have a wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth (or maybe his dentures don’t fit). The orchestra under Nicholas Collon was a real delight.
The production neither had the unbearable graveness of wisdom (as in many productions), but manages to portray the Brotherhood of Wise Men as regular people when they show them as coming from a hunt and also embracing their wives and children. Many other productions show them as celibatary priests, flaunting their wiseness and elevated status in front of the mortals.
The portrayal of Papageno as being more interested in procreation and sex than achieving higher worlds, is really funny – as is Papagena’s first appearance as an English tealady. The Queen of the Night races through her trademark coloratura arias with ease and shows real hatred and vengeance when trying to talks Pamina into killing Sarastro. Tamino’s tenor works beautifully, maybe slightly weak in places, but the radiant Pamina is a real delight.