Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review - The Magic Flute at MN Opera

from the MN Opera Website
There is so little that needs to be said about this production other than GO SEE IT!

The Magic Flute by Mozart, currently playing as part of Minnesota Opera's 2015-2016 season, is a charming opera that is about love, revenge, trials and rewards. It is probably best known for the Queen of the Night aria, and possibly the charming duet between Papageno and Papagena. The first time I heard anything from this opera was in the film Amadeus. I also saw a wonderful production at Theatre de la Jeune Leune back in the day.

from the MN Opera Instagram
When this production (a co-production between the German Komische Oper Berlin and the British theater group 1927) was first performed here in the Twin Cities a few years ago, I heard nothing but rave reviews. After seeing it opening night, I would happen to agree with these reviews. It was an amazing and fun production.

from the MN Opera Instagram
What made it so good? Beyond the fantastic singing by the leads and chorus, and the amazing playing of the orchestra - it is the production. It is set as a 1930s silent film.

I realize this sounds crazy so let me explain. The set is a simple white wall with certain portions that turn around to reveal actors. Everything else is projected on the white background. You can see from this backstage pic how it works. And from an audience view, it works great! It allows for some really great visuals, and some very funny moments. Papageno has a pet cat that keeps showing up, and watching the actor interact with the projection is just charming.

One of the aspects of this production I really enjoyed were the recitatives. This may sound odd except they kept the silent film style so the actors pretended to speak while the projections showed what they had said. All of this was done to a harpsichord (piano?) that sounded like a player piano from a silent film. It was imaginative, never boring and gorgeous to watch.

So, if you have any doubts - go see it and judge for yourself. If you need further evidence, check out this trailer. It is a fantastic production!