DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE | London, Royal Opera House

Directed by David McVicar, The Royal Opera’s beloved 2003 production delivers magic and mayhem in equal measure, with sumptuous production design (John Macfarlane). From the moment actors promenade through the audience complete with glowing orbs (in a somewhat guerrilla approach to the overture) we are catapulted into the familiar, fabulous fabulist world of 50-foot snakes, interplanetary war and Rosicrucian mystery. But what is more impressive than the undeniably glorious bombast is that our attention is always keenly focused on the myriad tribulations of our passionate hero Tomino (Benjamin Hulett).

Perhaps the most striking thing about this production is the quality of the musicianship and conducting: conductor Leo Hussain does a brilliant job of layering the music, offering an expansively symphonic rendition of Mozart’s score.

The opera’s most famous aria, sung by the Queen of the Night (Tuuli Takala), receives a very warm reception. The three ladies of the night are played with gusto and tonal subtlety by Kiandra Howarth, Hongni Wunand Nadine Weissmann. But the standout performances come from the men: Vito Priante’s gloriously deadpan Papageno has us genuinely laughing throughout, as he haplessly interacts with runaway birds (the puppetry is totally absorbing) and courts Papagena (a boisterous Yaritza Véliz). Rodell Rosel’s utterly grotesque Monostatos is a masterclass in acting through song, and proves a crowd favourite.

One of the most fiddly plots of most celebrated operas had been rendered about as perspicuous as it is ever likely to get. Not only has the story been told with great clarity, every twist and turn had landed. And landed with force. A first-class magic flute.

Book online for all performances until 28 November 2019.

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