Directed by Peter Coleman-Wright AO, conducted by Luke Spicer and showcasing the magnificent talents of Pacific Opera and Willoughby Symphony ,this is a bright, bold and colourful abridged version of Mozart’s opera. Performed and filmed at the Concourse, Chatswood, it was streamed online by the Australian Digital Concert Hall.
The MAGIC FLUTE was sung in German with English and traditional Chinese scene descriptions. Produced in association with the Australia China Institute for Arts and Culture at the Western Sydney University, the opera, staged with an Asian aesthetic,was part of Chatswood Culture Bites 2022 and Willoughby Council’s Year of the Tiger festival.
The opera recounts the adventures of Prince Tamino, an Asian price, and the bird-catcher Papageno on their quest to rescue Princess Pamina. Lost in a foreign land, Tamino is pursued by an enormous dragon, among the many trials and tribulations they must conquer. To assist their mission, they are given musical instruments with magical powers, which they use on their journey towards a deeper understanding of true love and happiness .The opera is multi layered but at times sprightly , a quest of self discovery ,worldly mysterious , metaphysical yet dynamic .Mozart’s score ranges from folk melodies , noble classical arias for Tamino and the Baroque fierceness of the Queen of the Night’s showcase aria There are also the Masonic elements alluded to that got Mozart into such trouble at the time. Some arias are absent as are the animals and chorus.
Staging and choreography are kept simple but are very effective, with great lighting effects and an uncomplicated set, often green, with small square ottomans for characters to sit on if necessary.
The plot is condensed into its crucial points.The gaps are filled in with the synopsis on the back screen , the excellent costuming and make-up (bright colours and face makeup for the good characters; dark colours for the evil ones) and the clear, dramatic lighting .
Luke Spicer enthusiastically,scrupulously conducted the somewhat reduced orchestra (yet every section was included). Musically it was splendid, the orchestra adroitly supporting the singers.
Our hero Prince Tamino (Daniel Verschuer) was all in white and has a charismatic presence and gave a warmly lyrical performance. Princess Pamina was given a fine performance by Mikayla Tate.
Nick Geddes as Papageno was tremendous, boisterous and jocular in his tattered , patched bright and colourful outfit . (Not forgetting his Pan pipes and xylophone).
Rachel Mink as Papagena was fresh and delightful and was in fine form with her sonorous voice. Her duet with Geddes was charming.
Ayako Ohtake as Queen of the Night was extremely striking and impressive with her showcase aria where she shoots furious icy sparks. She was majestically, imposingly clad in a black gown with a dragon motif and a crown.
Kirralee Hillier, Elizabeth Cooper and Rebecca O’Hanlon as the three attendants of the Queen of the Night are striking in red and are engaging in their ensemble , while the three sprites in white,Melanie Jha, Megan Kim and Olivia Morberger are consistent in their deft trios.
A terrific production, a great way to introduce audiences to opera.
The Pacific Opera/Willoughby Symphony performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute was performed live at the Concourse, Chatswood 19 February 2022 and was streamed by the Australian Digital Concert Hall 31 March 2022
running time 90 minutes no interval