After the short summer break I came back to the Royal Opera House to see Die Zauberflöte. It had been little more than a month and I was properly fed by Grimeborn and some Proms.

All the pictures and video I had seen from this production were elegant and very beautiful. And that is the main problem of this David McVicar’s production: its main virtue is the perfect visuals. But it stages the full of symbolism Mozart opera as a plain fairytale: no symbolism, no intra-story, no subtext. And for me that doesn’t work with such a stupid story like the one in the Die Zauberflöte. You can, you should, use it to tell something more, as Schikaneder did with the codes used at his time. For a 21th century production we need to use our theatre code to tell something else.

Although the visuals were wonderful I also had the sensation it being composed from different patched from here and there:

The Queen of the Night and the Three Ladies:

Queen of the Night

were elegant witches from Wicked:

Wicked

Everyone from the temple were from Milos Forman’s Amadeus film:

Amadeus

The Three boys were taken from a mix of different Spielberg movies:

Three boys

Monostatos:

Monostatos

was a mix between Fester Adams and Gary Oldman in Coppola’s Dracula:

Fester Adams Coppola's Dracula

and so on…

However, the singing was a different story. It was really, really good.

  • Mauro Peter with heroic and clear voice did a perfectly sung Tamino
  • Sabine Devieilhe was my main interest on this production. After enjoying very much her Mozart “The Weber sisters” album I really wanted to listen to her live. She was not only damn good singing but also a terrific actress (hello Dessay!) portraying a hysteric, powerful but fragile Queen of the Night.
  • Siobhan Stagg was a very nice surprise. Full body lyrical voice, very colourful and achieving top expressiveness. At some point remembered me Gudula Janowitz, and dude, that, talking about Pamina, is serious stuff.
  • Roderick Williams as Papageno was ok. He started a little bit cold but as the performance advanced he totally got it.
  • Mika Kares oh, another Finnish bass for Sarastro, what a surprise!. Correct
  • Peter Bronder as Monostatos was probably the worst of the night. And probably was not his fault but the production. Way too histrionic. Even if the character is supposed to be ugly and disgusting the magic in Mozart’s score can achieve that through normal singing. I’m still shocked by the ROH audience laughing too much with stupidities. And even worse… booing him because he was the bad guy in the movie! What are we? children?
  • Ah, Monostatos was not the worst. We had the three boys performed by actual voices. I cannot bare with that. Sorry maybe it’s me, it’s not you but no way. Unpleasant pitch and poor acting. And please, don’t tell me that using 3 boys instead of 3 proper sopranos makes the work more credible because, you know: opera, and The Magic Flute.

Julia Jones did a very good job conducting an orchestra that was not always accurate but was good enough.

Maybe 7 skateboards are too much for a production which I didn’t like in the drama way, but the singing was so good and visuals were more or less pleasant it ended up being a 7 skateboards night.