Magazine article Musical Opinion

Magic Flute

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Magic Flute

Article excerpt

BYO's Magic Flute at the QEH

It is like waiting for a bus; you wait for one Magic Flute and then three come along together. Earlier this year we had Covent Garden's much acclaimed new version, then Opera North's quirky adaptation, and on 29 August in the Queen Elizabeth Hall this brash upstart Flute from British Youth Opera.

British Youth Opera was founded in 1987 to give young singers experience in rehearsing and performing real roles in real venues. This, the company's 17th Season, has them performing Mozart's The Magic Flute along with Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream; most of the cast are in different roles in both. Not one of the orchestra or singers is over 30, conductor Noel Davies being the honourable exception. Being younger, in some quarters, means that we are expected to make special allowances for inexperience. This is neither just nor necessary as all were most accomplished and, one trumpet stray note aside in the Overture would not appear out of place in one at the more august companies.

This production was opera as entertainment, opera as fun; the audience laughed and laughed and laughed, and, I wager, will remember it far more so because of this. No stone is left unturned in the search for humour. We all laughed heartily at the second armed man wearing a Reverend's dog collar and Ian Paisley scare-the-children-to-bed voice, ordering the leading duo through their tests, the silly walks, the three Boys as Boy Scouts with magnifying glasses and maps, the Three Ladies as '50s nymphettes and Monostatos as a leather clad degenerate with his Temple Guards as Keystone Kops.

This Flute was sung in English, in a new translation by Christopher Cowell which was excellently enunciated and a true delight to hear; by turns comic and apt, it fitted the score as perfectly as the original German ever did. …

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