Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) is an opera journey about two lovers and their mystical struggle to be together with numerous fantasia-esque characters who help them, while others obstruct them, on their way.
The opera’s significance is not simply due to its mysticism or status as Mozart’s penultimate operatic work but because of its stunning and uniquely written musical composition which evoke the musical wizardry and emotions that produced the splendour of Mozart’s overture in The Marriage of Figaro.
The Royal College of Music International Opera School (RCMIOS) is currently performing Die Zauberflöte under the directorship of Jean-Claude Auvay at the Britten Theatre.
This opera production is one of the many opportunities to showcase the school’s new and fresh talent. Some of the biggest names in opera trained at RCMIOS including Dame Joan Sutherland, Sarah Connolly and Gerald Finley.
Maestro Michael Rosewell, director of opera at the RCM, had the RCM Opera Orchestra at the helm. He embraces the natural and earthy hues of Mozart’s masterpiece and allowed the exuberant overture to flourish with heavy double basses, abrasive cellos and lusciously played oboes, reminding the audience that life is sweet just like the opera’s endings.
As the opera begins, the audiences watch how Sarastro’s masked men kidnap innocent Pamina (Galina Averina). We are then left guessing what a projected image of cartoon furniture has to do with a magic flute; yet this is quickly swiped under the carpet as Tamino (Gyula Rab) attempts to spiral his way out from being attacked by a giant snake, which we unfortunately never see.
A toy snake however is bragged about by our deviant three ladies lavishly sung by Natasha Day, Rose Setten and Amy Williamson. They are presented as purple dressed fashionistas and practice some saucy acts on unconscious Tamino.
Pamina, sung by Averina, was the most taut, sorrowful and beguiling particularly when she sung “Ach, ich fühl’s, es ist verschwunden” in the final scenes. Gyula Rab sung as the bounty tenor who visually matched Permian on the stage, but lacked a tiny spark of pathos. Still, a decently sung Tamino.
Our comic relief and lonely Papageno was sung by the talented Timonthy Nelson and our Queen of the Night by Marie Jaermann. During the evening, it seemed as if she had sung the role several times before. She gave the patient audience what they wanted to hear in “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” but also conveyed hints of humility in her vocal agility as well.
The overall stage was designed by Ruari Murchison, which is a mix of a semi-stage with a large folded and concealed room at its centre. The RCMIOS production is a very German experience with both the intrigue of Mozart’s enchanting opera muzzled in with light humour. It is also a springboard for the diverse talent at the RCMIOS. One rarely feels miserable after seeing Die Zauberflöte and being exposed to Mozart’s operatic power.
Die Zauberflöte is showing until the 29th November 2014. Click here for more information. Please note the change in cast depending on the night.