Posts Tagged ‘The Magic Flute’
The Julie Taymor MAGIC FLUTE isn’t the only novel and abbreviated production of Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE hitting Australian shores this year. Jonathan Holloway, Artistic Director of the Perth International Arts Festival has scored quite a coup bringing the Peter Brook stripped back interpretation of this opera called A MAGIC FLUTE to the Festival this year. The production, by one of the great directors of the World looks great, and we can never have enough Mozart or interpretations of this marvellous work. Together with Strauss’ ELEKTRA, Perth is the place to be this month !
Performance are at the Octagon Theatre between 8pm and 9.30pm on the 18th, 19th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th of February.
Prices range from $25 for full-time students to $82 for Premium seats.
The link is here - http://www.perthfestival.com.au/en/What’s-on/Event/A-Magic-Flute
THE MAGIC FLUTE
Opera in 2 Acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder
Performance on Saturday, 14th January 2012 in the Opera Theatre of the Sydney Opera House.
Conductor Jonathan Darlington
Director Matthew Barclay, based on the original production by Julie Taymor
Scenery Designer George Tsypin
Associate Scenery Designer Tijana Bjelajac
Costume Designer Julie Taymor
Puppetry designers Julie Taymor, Michael Curry
Lighting Designer Gary Marder, based on the original design by Donald Holder
Choreography Matthew Barclay, based on the original choreography by Mark Dendy
Tamino Andrew Brunsdon
First Lady Jane Parkin
Second Lady Sian Pendry
Third Lady Tania Ferris
Papageno Andrew Jones
Queen of the Night Suzanne Shakespeare
Pamina Nicole Car
Monostatos Kanen Breen
First Spirit William McDermott
Second Spirit Matthew Phillips
Third Spirit Jusi Jenssen
The Speaker Stephen Bennett
Sarastro David Parkin
First Priest Malcolm Ede
Second Priest Samuel Dundas
Papagena Kiandra Howarth
Armoured Men Sam Roberts-Smith and Clifford Plumpton
Opera Australia is now taking a new approach to the Summer Season in Sydney, presenting a summery festival of operatic treats aimed squarely at tourists, the Sydney Festival crowd and a younger audience still revelling in the final weeks of school and university holidays. What better work to commence this journey than with a new production of THE MAGIC FLUTE. Opera Australia impresario, Lyndon Terracini has scored quite a coup in obtaining the rights to mount a second production of the Julie Taymor MAGIC FLUTE, first staged at the Metropolitan Opera, New York in 2004. To the horror of the now legendary but imagined ‘audience club’, the production has numerous musical numbers cut and is sung in English (Oh Horror!), to present a friendly and easily consumed staging for children and those new to opera – operas future audience.
Mozart’s arguably last or penultimate opera was devised by Mozart and Schikaneder as a singspiel for performance for the everyday person in a Public theatre rather than a commissioned work for a royal court theatre. I suspect he would have thoroughly approved of any minor tampering to ensure the work remained relevant to it’s audience and continued to entertain. But the number of cuts is beyond the realm of minor tampering. It is hard to accept that new, young audience members would have disapproved of hearing the overture played by an orchestra in the theatre for the first time.
Musical numbers jettisoned from the work to reduce the playing time and progress the action include the overture, Pamina’s suicide aria, the Pamina/Papageno duet, a few second verses and the canon-like duet for the two Armoured Men. As much as I love some of these pieces, the cuts worked in delivering a coherent and fluid telling of the story with little injury to the piece. I must admit to often feeling that I too as an audience member was participating in one of the trials of the work during the performance of the second act, which often seems interminable in performance. Not so in this production where the cuts during the second act worked wonders in pacing the action. No doubt performances of the FLUTE in future years in some other production will see these numbers re-instated for the purists, but to my mind the purists should be happy to have such a thoughtful and delightful production to attract new opera lovers to the art form they hold so dear.
The production delivers a truly magical MAGIC FLUTE with bucket loads of humour, colour, glorious costumes and shimmering sets transporting the audience to another world. A 10 metre long serpent running along a catwalk in front of the orchestra pit, women with removable heads, a giant goose flying over the stage transporting the three spirits, puppet birds and polar bears add treat after visual treat. No less the extremely different, novel and fresh conception of the costumes, makeup and scenery. A large, central cube of shiny steel and perspex continually rotated, evolved and transformed into scenic wonder after another every few minutes for the different scenes, while Egyptian characters and hieroglyphs adorned numerous act cloths added additional splendour. The staging told the story well with delightful and additional, very broad, ocker humour, yet allowed for most of the messages of the masonic scenes to ring true. The only failings of the production were an overproduced ending to the first scene when stillness during the sublime quintet that ends this scene may have been more appropriate, an ill-conceived Queen of the Night who was plainly dressed, lacked any real terror and whose musical numbers were hampered by fussy movement of triangular wings on her costume, and a most unimaginative staging of the trials of fire and water.
Musically the production was in the expert hands of Jonathan Darlington from the Vancouver Opera, a frequent visitors to these shores, and a superb cast.
The performance was so uniformly well cast it is difficult to single out any standout singers. Andrew Brunsdon so often either mis-cast or unable to realise his full potential, was on this occasion vocally and dramatically a shoe-in as the heroic prince Tamino. Singing with freedom, a beautiful vocal timbre and fine line throughout his entire vocal range he was the best Tamino I have heard in a long while. He cut a fine heroic figure on stage, and was thoroughly convincing. Andrew Jones added yet another exquisitely sung and dramatically convincing role to his repertoire. His resonant voice, athleticism and dramatic gifts were well displayed. His characterisation of Papageno however lacked some of the humour innate in the roll. Another singer with amazing vocal gifts is Nicole Car (Pamina) – such a pity that her suicide aria and duet with Papageno (probably the dramatic heart of the opera) were cut. David Parker’s Sarastro, tall, majestic, authoritative and vocally resplendent, was the best Sarastro we have seen since the late Donald Shanks. Again such a shame the second verse of his aria ”In diesen heil’gen Hallen” was cut.
Although Suzanne Shakespeare easily had all the notes and was vocally accurate for the two fearful arias of the Queen of the Night, she was dramatically hampered by a lack of drama for her two entrances, an overly fussy costume, and a voice too light and lacking drama for the role. The role of Monostasos dressed in a repugnant fat suit was hilariously performed and suavely sung by Kanen Breen. Jane Parkin, Sian Pendry and Tania Ferris gave us one of the finest trios of Three Ladies ever to tackle a serpent and seduce a Prince.
No praise too high can be given to the three boys/spirits assembled for this production. William McDermott, Matthew Phillips and Jusi Jenssen were vocally accurate, extremely personable, great little actors and each had beautiful and strong voices. They were truly a delight.
Stephen Bennett in the smaller role of the Speaker was opulent casting. Kiandra Howarth as Papagena acted delightfully but was less successful vocally in a gift role. Smaller roles of the 2 Priests and 2 Armoured Men (with little left to sing) were all well cast.
The Opera Australia Chorus was stunningly costumed, and equally stunning vocally, delivering sublime singing for the magnificent choruses of the work.
Although the proposition of presenting a cut MAGIC FLUTE is controversial – it works ! It is superbly staged and sung and 10 out of 10 to the OA for having the guts to present it in English.
Infusing this joyous opera with the distinctive sound and beat of South African instrumentation, the world-famous Isango Ensemble have breathed new life into Mozart’s timeless opera.
This earthy, arresting adaptation has earned huge critical acclaim worldwide, garnering the Globe de Cristal award for Best Opera in Paris at the Théâtre de Châtelet, and an Olivier Award and a Theatre Goers’ Choice Award in London.
Audiences have been exhilarated by this celebratory and uplifting work of the spirit – one that which speaks directly out of the townships, and yet still bursts with the truth, immediacy and lyrical essence of Mozart’s masterpiece.
Isango Ensemble’s playful musical flourishes abound: Papagano’s flute is instead a jazzy trumpet while marimbas and other traditional African instruments send liquid tremors through the score, creating a vibrant, enchanting and deeply percussive musical theatre.
Jubilantly theatrical and gloriously energetic, this unforgettable production perfectly captures the joy and exuberance of Mozart’s extraordinary work.
Bringing this joyous interpretation of Mozart’s penultimate opera to Melbourne is the Melbourne Festival Director, Brett Sheehy. The production is supported by ABC Classic FM.
Tueday 11th – Saurday 15th October at 7.30 pm
Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th October at 1.30 pm
Performances are at the State Theatre of The Victorian Arts Centre.
|A Reserve Full||$129.90|
|A Reserve Group (8+)||$116.90|
|A Reserve Concession||$97.40|
|B Reserve Full||$114.90|
|B Reserve Concession||$86.15|
|B Reserve Student||$25.00|
|C Reserve Full||$99.90|
|C Reserve Concession||$74.90|
|C Reserve Student||$25.00|
Reported by National Arts Writer, Michaela Boland in today’s AUSTRALIAN, Opera Australia is considering mounting an opera season in Brisbane again after an absence of 24 years.
The Queensland Arts Minister, Rachel Nolan says her Government is eager to bring Opera Australia to Brisbane. The re-introduction of opera seasons by the national opera company would underscore the state government’s ambitions for a greater cultural footprint in Australia and internationally, and build on its growing reputation as a cultural destination. Neither Ms Nolan or Opera Australia’s Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini will confirm the rumours at this time.
Mr Terracini is quoted as saying, “It would be fantastic for Opera Australia to go to Brisbane and, yes, we have had discussions.”
The NSW and Victorian governments match OA’s federal funding, and a similar arrangement with the Queensland Government may be required to secure the deal. Mr Terracini says he is awaiting confirmation of funding from “a couple of parties” before he can announce which opera or operas will be staged.
The rumoured Opera Australia season is slated for May 2012, when the Queensland Opera would normally be performing in the QPAC Lyric Theatre. The season is said to consist of:
the Baz Luhrman production of Britten’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, and the Julie Taymor production of Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE from the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
The Luhrman DREAM had been said to be ‘retired’ following the performances in Sydney and Melbourne in 2010 and has never been seen in Brisbane. It is great news that this production is still around and may yet be re-staged. Julie Taymor, who also directed the LION KING and SPIDERMAN – THE MUSICAL on Broadway, directed the then new production of THE MAGIC FLUTE for the Metropolitan Opera in 2004. It is highly regarded and has been staged annually in the Met seasons since then. Mr Terracini has said he is keen for Opera Australia to stage it for Australian audiences.
What of the Queensland Opera? Opera Queensland has been dislodged from its regular May slot in the QPAC Lyric Theatre to accommodate the proposed Opera Australia Season, and is now grappling with how to deliver a full program next year. Opera Queensland Artistic Director, Chris Mangin says the company will make up for its lost season with an additional program in early April, “but it will be a different type of programming”. It is not known whether this will affect the planned Australian Premiere of Stephen Schwarz’ opera SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON planned for production by Queensland Opera in 2012 (as previously reported by the Opera Insider on the 15th January 2011).
The planned season also puts pressure on the diminishing stock of lyric theatres in Brisbane. The QPAC Lyric Theatre is now the sole venue in Brisbane for large scale productions of opera, ballet and musicals requiring a large lyric theatre . The problem is even more dire than in Sydney. Already the suggestion has been made that Brisbane needs another Lyric Theatre with a capacity of 1,500 to 1,600 seats to meet the demand. The Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council may yet regret allowing the demolition of the SGIO Theatre in 2007 and the glorious Hoyt’s Picture Palace – the Regent Theatre (capacity 2,600 seats) scheduled to commence demolition last month.
Opera Australia is certainly on the move with quite radical changes to the nature and breadth of it’s operations under the stewardship of it’s visionary impresario, Lyndon Terracini. In 2 years we have seen an almost magical transformation in the quality of productions, excellent tutelage of the company’s younger singers in appropriate roles so they shine, the engagement of truly great International guest artists, a planned production of Wagner’s RING, the planned Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, muoted opera seasons in Parramatta and now Brisbane. Let’s hope the resources and finances of the company are not being spread too thin.
In the meantime, Brisbane is on track to really earn it’s title of Bris Vegas !
Making her role and house debut at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Jessica Pratt has scored considerable success. reviews are now starting to filter through.
George Hall writing in STAGE REVIEWS, comments she “supplies physical authority and all the money notes”.
Michael Church reports in THE INDEPENDENT, ”Jessica Pratt sails effortlessly through the Queen of the Night coloratura”
and in OPERA TODAY Clair Seymour comments “As the Queen of the Night, Jessica Pratt, making her role and house debut, had all the notes, and hit them cleanly. While her top notes were warm and true, without a hint of stridency or loss of power, her lower register projected less well”.
Despite a few quibbles by Ms Seymour, Jessica has accomplished an auspicious debut in one of the great opera houses of the world. Next LINDA DI CHAMOUNIX for Opera de Toulon, Elvira in I PURITANI at Teatro Verdi di Salerno, and Lucia at La Fenice, Venice.