We review the first night of the favourite Mozart’s “the Magic Flute” at the London Coliseum.
Ever since my days at University and falling in love with the Magic Flute even as a teenager – Mozart Opera has always held a special place in my heart. In the same way that “relationships” need constant adjustment and spark – so the magic of ENO is its re-interpretation, at every level, of the Operas that it performs.
This was my second viewing of this original production. But not for my two ladies who sat next to me. This was their first ever opera performance. They chose the right topic and evening.
This performance was sharp, very well constructed, the classic ENO minimalist approach of letting the performers take you by the hand on the journey, the mix and almost conversations of orchestra and protagonists, and particularly principal flautist Claire Wickes wandering into the stage in dialogue with Papegeno.
The sudden-ness of the orchestra kicking into life as we start with full lights on in the auditorium – to grab our attention, and the humour of the Chaplin-like screen writing, tells us everything we need to know. This is no classical Mozart. This is Mozart made modern.
You can only do this, of course, if you have the professional immaculate singing. ENO excels at the Chorus, the groups of singers. And yet this was the area that for me was the least convincing this time around. It took a while for the Three Ladies to get into gear – but this is to be picky. I loved Lucy Crowe as Pamina, and Rowan Pierce later on as Papagena is always funny and spot on – she gave a brief synopsis of the approach when she sang just a few months ago at the ENO Celebration Evening.
ENO is always very clever and relaxed when it does Mozart. This “Magic Flute” is up there in competition with its staging and performance of “Cosi Fan Tutte “ a couple of years ago.
It is a performance to enjoy as an old friend. But it is also for newcomers. One of the key aims of ENO is to widen the approach to a wider audience. My ladies sitting next to me, were not disappointed.