[OPERA ~ GERMANY]
Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Fri 1 Mar.
The Magic Flute was Mozart’s final opera, written and first performed in 1791, only a few months before his death. The libretto was written by Emanuel Schikaneder.
This adaptation, presented by Komische Oper Berlin with Artistic Director Barrie Kosky, and Suzanne Andrade and Paul Barritt (from London-based performance company 1927 that presented Golem at the 2016 Adelaide Festival), uses animation to add elements of fantasy, silent film imagery, steampunk, and even comic books to create a dream-like experience for the audience. The stage is occupied only by a large screen, onto which these animations are projected throughout the performance. Singers enter the stage both at ‘ground level’ but also via a series of revolving doors at various heights built into the screen. Not a job for one who is afraid of heights!
The singers interact flawlessly with the animations and in this way are able to convey a range of emotions through their acting as well as their singing. There was a real sense of seeing the best of the best in this production – all of the cast were outstanding, and as usual, the accompaniment of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Jordan De Souza) was stunning.
A stand-out, for me personally, was soprano Aleksandra Olczyk. From her perch at the top of the screen, Olczyk plays the Queen Of The Night, a vampy spider monarch, and sings the famous arias O Zittre Nicht, Mein Lieber Sohn and Der Hölle Rache Kocht In Meinem Herzen. All we see of Olczyk is her face, as the body of the spider is projected onto her torso, and the legs encompass the entire screen.
The Magic Flute is a fairy tale whose storyline may not appeal to modern sensibilities. Despite themes of racism and misogyny in the libretto – plus concepts of ‘insta-love’ (Tamino falling in love with the picture of Pamina) and ‘incels’ (Papageno lamenting that no woman wanted him towards the end of Act II), this production is worth seeing for the artistry of the adaptation and the use of animation. Many superlatives have been used to describe this show; it’s truly one not to be missed!
The Magic Flute continues at Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, at various times, until Sun 3 Mar.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.