Scot­tish Opera: The Magic Flute Theatre Royal, Glas­gow JJJJ

The Scotsman - - REVIEWS - KELLY APTER

IT MIGHT sound sac­ri­le­gious, but it’s some­thing of a mys­tery why the pre­pos­ter­ous sto­ry­line of The Magic Flute still has a place on the mod­ern stage. Lines so misog­y­nist they’re laugh- out- loud funny are spo­ken and sung by both sexes, in a world where women are con­demned for their mind­less chat­ter and ren­dered point­less with­out a man be­side them.

But al­most 230 years af­ter Mozart first de­liv­ered his thinly- veiled Ma­sonic al­le­gory, The Magic Flute is still pulling in the crowds, for largely the same rea­sons it did back in 1791: it’s hugely en­ter­tain­ing.

Just as Emanuel Schikanede­r will have had them rolling in the 18th cen­tury aisles, Kit Hes­keth- Har vey’s English li­bretto is re­plete with comic one- lin­ers that speak di­rectly to a 21st cen­tury au­di­ence, de­spite the pro­duc­tion’s Vic­to­rian set­ting.

The struc­ture, too, makes it ac­ces­si­ble to a wider de­mo­graphic than most op­eras, with its mix of song and nar­ra­tive more rem­i­nis­cent of mu­si­cal theatre and mu­sic hall. This 2012 re­vival also ben­e­fits from Si­mon Higlett’s stun­ning set and cos­tume de­sign, a nev­erend­ing feast for the eyes.

If the story, for all its rhetoric about love and wis­dom, leaves much to be de­sired, the cast still buys into it 100 per cent, re­sult­ing in per­for­mances that are noth­ing short of glo­ri­ous, from Ju­lia Sitkovet­sky’s exquisitel­y sharp Queen of the Night aria to Gemma Sum­mer­field’s gen­tle and heart­felt Pam­ina’s lament, and sev­eral brief but deeply sat­is­fy­ing mo­ments of rous­ing cho­rus.

Threat­en­ing t o bring t he house down, how­ever, is Richard Burkhard, whose lovelorn yet jovial Pa­pageno over­flows with warmth, wit and charm.

2 Sofia Tron­coso is Pa­pa­gena to Richard Burkhard’s lovelorn, charm­ing and witty Pa­pageno

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