Magic Flute - November 2003
Magical Night to
Consider this for a story line: A powerful
priest abducts a beautiful princess. Her devious mother, the
Queen of the Night asks a handsome prince to rescue her daughter.
He agrees and is helped in his quest by the queen's friendly
but simple bird-catcher. The prince is given a magic flute to
help him fight off evil during his mission while his new friend
is given magic bells.
The pair are guided by three 'boys'
who are played by females. They triumph in their quest and the
prince and princess fall in love while the bird-catcher finds
the girl of his dreams.
It all sound likes a rather childish
plot for a fairy tale or traditional pantomime and, in some ways,
Mozart's opera The Magic Flute could easily drop into either
The music is delightful. There is a dragon,
woodland animals, hiss-worthy characters, and the story is entertaining
for anyone who loves the aura of magical and unreal worlds. Interwoven
with action, however, the librettist has concealed Masonic rituals
and symbols, while Mozart also conspired by composing the opera
in the key of E flat major, which has three flats - and three
is a Masonic sacred number. There are also three ladies, three
spirits, three boys and so on.
Certainly, once armed with this knowledge,
it helps to make sense of some of the scenes, such as the one
where the prince and princess are invited to enter a priest's
circle rather than a church to take their vows.
However, when Kentish Opera produced
the work at The Stag Theatre last week, designed Enid Strutt
created such a magical set that symbols and rituals were largely
forgotten. Indeed, under atmospheric green and red lights, it
looked very much like a setting for The Lord of the Rings with
an eerie woodland, small mounds and a complex nest of caves.
Apart from a few examples of transformation,
the many scenes were played out against this single setting which
maintained the pace of the action, although on a few occasions
there was slight confusion when some of the scenes merged rather
The production was excellent and
the director, Sally Langford, must have been delighted with the
reception from the audience. With so many outstanding performances
and costumes the encores were well deserved.
As usual, the Kentish Opera chorus was
impeccable and the glorious bass baritone of Olle Zetterström
as the high priest, the superb coloratura soprano of Rosalind
Waters as the Queen of the Night, Freddie Tong's highly expressive
and delightfully comic portrayal of the bird-catcher and the
very professional orchestra conducted by Michael Lloyd, all helped
to make the performance one to remember.
Roy Atterbury, Kentish Times 27th November 2003