A production that emphasises The Magic Flute’s fun elements
The Magic Flute is essentially comic, and this wonderful Andrew Rawle-directed production has a remarkable knack at emphasising the comic elements in this piece.
Moments in the storyline that almost cry out for audience interaction appear in Tamino’s character when he says: “Was that for real?” and “I will go to Pamina’s rescue”. This understandably had the audience in giggles, and it is a safe bet that the audience probably had to bite their tongues to stop themselves shouting out: “Yes, it could have been for real, Tamino”, and, “That’s right, you go to Pamina’s rescue”. Andrew Irwin’s interpretation of Tamino (and Andrew Rawle’s direction) worked wonders.
At some points during the unravelling of this fairy tale, one might easily have forgotten that the Magic Flute is an opera that Mozart composed with not-so-comic intentions. Along with his librettist Emmanuel Schikaneder, Mozart wrote the opera as a way to tell audiences about the serious subject of the opposing forces of ignorance verses enlightenment. (As buffs might tell you, Mozart and Schikaneder were freemasons and this, together with the serious side, comes over in this production as well).
During the chorus numbers the ensemble forces of Great Witley Operatic Society’s other singers were out of this world. All characters had a great stage presence too (Paul Thomson was particularly resolute as both Orator and the Bass Armed Man) as were David Coulson’s Sarastro and Patricia Head’s Pamina.
The three attendants to the Queen of the night (Rebecca Fearnley, Janet Hay and Bronwyn Carless) were very credible, along with Claire Johnson’s formidably dark Queen of the Night whose costume was particularly stunning. Some may have anticipated that the genii would be sung by boys but it worked well having Cathryn Dhona, Mary Dhonau and Calaire Hardie assuming these roles.
I cannot fail to mention Caroline Causier’s Papagena and Mike Faulkner’s Papageno, both of whom had interesting costume changes (although I wasn’t sure that Papageno’s costume always looked particularly birdcatcher-like).
As in previous productions by the GWOS, the efforts of the Musical Director Sue Black and the pit orchestra were an integral part of the jigsaw too, consistently supplying both the underlying musical effects of the pantomime-moments, the music hall moments and also the darker, more serious moments that were taking place on stage. The production runs until Saturday 18th March at The Swan in Worcester.
Mozart’s final opera before he died in 1791 and possibly one of his most challenging, is a tale of love and of good versus evil.The opera contains some of his most beautiful music and this was evident from the first bars of music played by an efficient orchestra under the tight control of MD Sue Black.
It is claimed that the setting and time for this story could be anywhere and anytime and Director Andrew Rawle takes full advantage of that in some re-written dialogue and innovative direction that enhances the story and entertains.
A Prince and leading man Tamino (Andrew Irwin) falls in love with a portrait of Pamina (Patricia Head). Both sang and acted with great skill. Pamina has been kidnapped and if he can rescue her, Pamina’s Mother the Queen (Claire Johnson) offers her daughter’s hand in marriage. Along the way, Tamino meets a bird catcher Papageno (Mike Faulkner) who gave us an excellent comic performance full of musicality – I could hear every word.
There was great depth in all remaining principals including Tim Johnson (Monostatos), Paul Thompson (Orator) David Coulson (Sarastro), Paul Ellis & Nick Pilborough (Bass & Tenor Priests) and to nearly stealing the show, Caroline Causier as Papagena. The three ‘Ladies’ and three ‘Genies’ and entire chorus provided good support and the whole cast were well dressed.
The set with its image of a chess board and similarity to the floor of a Masonic Temple, was simple but very effective and the lighting provided an overall lavish effect. This was a production oozing with quality.
Last night I went to see ‘ The Magic Flute ‘ . Well, what a night! Wonderful staging, wonderful lighting, wonderful costumes, wonderful music, wonderful acting and wonderful voices! I heard every word both spoken and sang and enjoyed every moment so much.
Thank you so much, I’m looking forward to ‘ The Marriage of Figaro ‘ next year.
Best wishes, sincerely,
Elizabeth Taylor. Worcester