The Magic Flute starring Elsa Dreisig at the Royal Opera House is a truly first-class show that really ought to be in the cinemas
The Magic Flute
Royal Opera House, London Until November 27
This fine revival of Sir David McVicar’s 2003 production of The Magic Flute works at every level. It’s imaginatively redirected by Bárbara Lluch; John Macfarlane’s imposing sets and period costumes still look fresh; Leo Hussain conducts a spirited performance; and a polished cast, all of whom look the part, bat all the way down the order.
Benjamin Hulett, a promising Tamino at Garsington, effortlessly makes the transition to Covent Garden’s main stage as a mellifluous hero. The 2016 Operalia winner Elsa Dreisig, making her Covent Garden debut, is a delightful Pamina.
In fact all the debutants do well, especially Andreas Bauer Kanabas’s dignified and imposing Sarastro; and Vito Priante is an expert Papageno, with a winning blend of the comic and the touchingly vulnerable.
The Magic Flute works at every level with a polished cast including the 2016 Operalia winner Elsa Dreisig (above), making her Covent Garden debut, as a delightful Pamina
I had some reservations about Tuuli Takala’s Queen of the Night – a bit too much of a nervy high-wire act for me. But the audience loved her, and she will surely settle down as the run progresses.
This is the eighth incarnation of McVicar’s show, and after that turkey at Glyndebourne this summer, it’s worth analysing why this one is so good. Glyndebourne’s absurd nonsense, set in a grand hotel, had nothing whatsoever to do with Mozart’s intentions.
McVicar puts Mozart at the heart of his production. Of course, Flute has to be fun and a lot of laughs (because the piece, after all, was composed for a suburban Vienna music hall). And this one is.
But The Magic Flute in essence is a serious piece, a point McVicar and his team totally grasp. It’s a hymn of praise to the Enlightenment and to man’s necessary and constant quest for knowledge and self-improvement.
A truly first-class show that really ought to be in the cinemas. Perhaps next time.