Die Zauberflöte

Tuesday May 7 2013 0:00

Ten years on, and with numerous revivals, David McVicar’s production of Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ is once again solemnised for our pleasure and, indeed, enlightenment. Two days after conductor Sir Colin Davis passed away, Sir Antonio Pappano made a touching speech in memory of his predecessor. (Colin Davis was music director of The Royal Opera between 1971 and 1986 and a regular guest thereafter. He even conducted the first run of this ‘Die Zauberflöte’ and some revivals.)

The conductor Julia Jones is currently in charge and obtains excellent playing as part of a well-paced, crisp and dynamic reading – very impressive, as is most of the singing. Charles Castronovo is an expressive and ardent Tamino, a prince, while his social opposite, Papageno, a lowly bird catcher (feathered variety) is engagingly and wittily taken by Christopher Maltman. Brindley Sherratt is an imposing and humane Sarastro. The prince’s beloved, the kidnapped Pamina, finds Ekaterina Siurina both seductive and slightly lacking vocal poise, but she’s a charmer; rather more so than her vengeful mother, the Queen of the Night, taken by Albina Shagimuratova with piercing clarions calls – coloratura with a vengeance.

David McVicar’s direction, as revived by Leah Hausman, is as enchanting as it is marmoreal, yet is also too consciously played for laughs – Papagena (Susana Gaspar), destined for Papageno’s clutches, for instance, is too much of a chav. The lighting is darkly translucent, and out of darkness – and ordeal – comes sunlight. In musical terms, ‘The Magic Flute’ looks back to the rococo ornamentation of the high Baroque of Bach and Handel and forward to the comic sparkle of Rossini, well reflected in the staging. Though slightly over-pantomimic at times, there is much to relish here, both musically and scenically. Colin Anderson

Event phone: 020 7304 4000
Event website: http://www.roh.org.uk