The Magic Flute

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry


Mozart’s The Magic Flute was presented as a new English version by librettist, Glyn Maxwell and performed by OperaUpClose.

The company have earned critical acclaim with their previous English language re-imaginings of operas, including La bohème and Carmen, gaining an Olivier Award with their unusual adaptations and somewhat quirky style.

The open set with its neon signs and urban background rumblings gave a pleasing sense of anticipation, with added sirens indicating the start of the show.

The on-stage accompaniment of piano, double base, guitar and reed instruments opened with the overture whilst the six actors played out various scenarios on the centrally positioned revolve.

We are invited into London’s most exclusive club where the action begins. Tamino has no time to stop for vagabonds, the paparazzi or even his girlfriend, Pamina, but, at the first revolve we see them retiring to bed after a blazing row. They relive their encounters of the evening in dreams made extraordinary by the lateness of the hour, their befuddled senses and perhaps, a touch of magic!

Although an interesting concept, with a host of innovative ideas, such as modern-day street language, and particularly the inventive use of mobile phones, the cumulative effect was overall rather confusing and at times, difficult to follow.

However, this didn’t detract from the talented company of six who’s harmonisations were melodious, strong and full of expressive content. However, to a purist opera follower, this may not have been their operatic cup of tea, but it is always good to see different approaches to a classical work and the audience at this one night performance gave appreciative applause at the end.

A special mention must go to the orchestra under the musical direction of pianist, David Keefe. Beautiful playing throughout.

Elizabeth M. Smith, Rosemary Manjunath


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