The Magic Flute by Scottish Opera. Photo: James Glossop.

The Magic Flute

Mozart's classic 'Singspiel' The Magic Flute is a ravishing, glittering success.

If you are new to Opera, this is probably one of the best ways to get an introduction, and this production will delight and surprise even the most seasoned opera fan. It's in the form of what was known as a 'Singspiel' - telling the story with spoken word and singing much in the manner of a contemporary stage musical.

From the start, we are in a Victorian steampunk setting, with a hokey showman in a swirling cloak drawing an audience member into the action, and the curtain is then raised to reveal a fabulous set, dazzlingly well lit throughout, and whose moving parts and mechanical flexibility all add to this glorious spectacle.

Sung (and spoken) in English , this fantasy fairytale kicks off with the gorgeously dressed Three Ladies emerging from the shadows to rescue Tamino from a serpent, itself a wonderfully inventive piece of stage construction. Their dresses and their head-dresses sparkle with myriad lights, and their sassy appraisal of the physical attributes of Tamino, who has un-heroically fainted from fright, is a delight to listen to and to watch.

Simon Higlett's staging and design is quite wonderful, with portals continually opening to new backdrops, and its moving parts offering up different scenarios with almost casual success - and this is all lit subtly and spectacularly. There are gorgeous echoes of Victorian industry mixed with Egyptian and Masonic symbols throughout, and more than a few nods to Glasgow's industrial heritage. It's a world echoing the literature of Jules Verne, and the imagination of HG Wells and the detail, colour, sparkle and subtlety of all this adds to the musical and comic delights on offer.

The comic genius of Mozart's work is probably best personified by Papageno, beautifully characterised and sung by Richard Burkhard as the cocky, cheeky birdcatcher, who acts as the earthy everyman as we move through this story. He is a vaudeville showman - witty and vulgar at the same time, and he effortlessly breaks the fourth wall to conspire with and amuse the audience in pantomime style. It's the way this character moves across the stage and uses the sets that highlights the fluid and subtle choreography of the whole piece.

The musical performances are exquisite, with the iconic Queen of the Night's aria in Act II providing the spine-tingling apogee from Julia Sitkovetsky, with a stunning delivery of one of Mozart's most astonishing and acrobatic demonstrations of the power and range of a soprano voice. Goosebumps.

Burkhard as Papageno deftly steals the show, but the chorus also acquit themselves admirably, and the performances of both Peter Gijsberten as Tamino, and Gemma Summerfield as Pamina are top notch. Adrian Thompson plays Monostatos with gleeful malevolence, and James Creswell's Sarastro carries both power and gravitas.  This production sounds as good as it looks, and credit has to be given to the Scottish Opera orchestra under Tobias Ringborg.

You also get great value for your money here, with near on three hours of spectacle to enjoy. The opening night ended with sustained and thunderous applause, and more than a few whoops, screams and shouts of approval for the audiences favourites. This is an uplifting, comical and beautifully sung and played production that is a joy for the eyes and the ears. Magic.

After Glasgow, the production tours to Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, London’s Hackney Empire and Belfast. I suggest you book now.

★★★★★ 5 stars

Performances

Theatre Royal Glasgow, 282 Hope Street, Glasgow G2 3QA

Sat 4 May, 7.15pm

Wed 8 May, 7.15pm

Fri 10 May, 7.15pm

Sun 12 May, 3pm

Tue 14 May, 7.15pm

Thu 16 May, 3pm (Dementia Friendly Performance)

Sat 18 May, 7.15pm

The Magic Flute Unwrapped

Thu 9 May, 6pm

The Magic Flute Pre-show talk

Sat 18 May, 6pm

The Magic Flute Touch Tour

Sun 12 May, 1.45pm

The Magic Flute Audio-described performance

Sun 12 May, 3pm

 

Eden Court, Inverness

Tue 21 May, 7.15pm

Thu 23 May, 7.15pm

Sat 25 May, 7.15pm

The Magic Flute Unwrapped

Fri 24 May, 6pm

The Magic Flute Pre-show talk

Sat 25 May, 6pm

The Magic Flute Touch Tour

Sat 25 May, 6pm

The Magic Flute Audio-described performance

Sat 25 May, 7.15pm

 

His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen

Thu 30 May, 7.15pm

Sat 1 Jun, 7.15pm

The Magic Flute Unwrapped

Fri 31 May, 6pm

The Magic Flute Pre-show talk

Sat 1 Jun, 6pm

The Magic Flute Touch Tour

Sat 1 Jun, 6pm

The Magic Flute Audio-described performance

Sat 1 Jun, 7.15pm

 

Festival Theatre, 13–29 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9FT

Wed 5 Jun, 7.15pm

Fri 7 Jun, 3pm (Dementia Friendly Performance)

Sun 9 Jun, 3pm

Tue 11 Jun, 7.15pm

Thu 13 Jun, 7.15pm

Sat 15 Jun, 7.15pm

The Magic Flute Unwrapped

Thu 6 Jun, 6pm

The Magic Flute Pre-show talk

Sat 15 Jun, 6pm

The Magic Flute Touch Tour

Sun 9 Jun, 1.45pm

The Magic Flute Audio-described performance

Sun 9 Jun, 3pm

 

Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street, London, E8 1EJ

Thu 20 Jun, 7.30pm

Sat 22 Jun, 7.30pm

The Magic Flute Pre-show talk

Sat 22 Jun, 6pm

 

Belfast Grand Opera House, 2-4 Great Victoria Street, Belfast, BT2 7HR

Thu 27 Jun, 7.15pm

Sat 29 Jun, 7.15pm

The Magic Flute Unwrapped

Fri 28 Jun, 6pm

The Magic Flute Pre-show talk

Sat 29 Jun, 6pm

Accessibility
Creative Learning Events

The Magic Flute

£12.50-£82.50
10

Rating

10.0/10

Plus +

  • Steampunk Joy
  • Highly Accessible
  • Looks & sounds incredible

About David Petherick

David Petherick is the owner of edinburghfestival.org and was born in, and lives, in Edinburgh. He is a writer, marketer and tweeter and is also "Doctor LinkedIn". Follow @edinburghfest for festival news and updates and @petherick for personal news and views. David has previously worked as UK Editor for The Next Web.

Have your say...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.