Teatro Real, Madrid, February 17, 2020.
Four years after its successful premiere in Madrid, Barrie Kosky's and Susanne Andrade's production of The Magic Flute returns to Teatro Real to delight again the audience. The musical team shone not for every individual but as an ensamble, making the audience to have a fun and a nice time.
Everytime The Magic Flute is seen on stage, many people leave the theatre smiling or with the sensation of having seen something marvellous. Mozart's last opera, as a singspiel treats more human, comical topics than the opera seria. In this opera we attend to the triumph of the Wisdom, Goodness and Reason, as the Enlightment was at its highest point and the search of these values by Francmasonry (to which Mozart belonged) were represented in this opera by the world of Sarastro and his Temple. Its hard trials to enter are seen in the ones Tamino, Pamina and Papageno have to go through to became wise people. However, many aspects of this opera wouldn't pass today's filters: Sarastro's order of Wisdom disdain the "lies and lack of virtues" of women or Monostatos has to hold back his love impulse due to his "dark skin". Sadly some aspects are thought in Europe in 1791 despite the Revolution preaching equality, but the marvellous music overcomes all this.
Kosky and Andrade create a unique, dazzling world through images projected in a wall, inspired in the fantastic, dreamlike aesthetics from silent films. And this is the secret of its success: the original adventures fit well in this new version, not only rspecting Here, Tamino becomes Rudolph Valentino, Pamina is Louise Brooks, Papageno becomes Buster Keaton, Monostatos becomes Nosferatu, Papagena is a dancer similar to Mae Murray, Sarastro is a mixture between Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Caligari, the three ladies are three strambotic women dressed in 1920s style, the Queen of the Night is a queen-spider with a head similar to Frankenstein's Bride. The magic Flute is Tinker-Bell-Like and Papageno's bells appear with sexy legs in lingerie. There are some reminiscences from Lotte Reiniger's "The adventures of Prince Ahmed". Among the achievements of the ambience, we can mention the opening with Tamino fleeing the dragon, all the scenes in the Temple, the trials and the temptations, the Queen of Night apparitions with thunders and knifes, or Monostatos hounds' running behind Pamina. The dialogues have been replaced by intertitles like in a typical silent movie. Silents are known today being in black and white but this production is colorful. After the villains' final disapparition, the film is stopped to show some negatives in color and being destroyed (as many silent films' final fate). Was it also an ilusion created by Sarastro and the Queen? The curtain falls to show the chorus, used to dress as Sarastro, dressed now like Tamino and Pamina, and in the last chords the lovers appear among them to kiss each other as the lights go off. There is no good and evil, just people for love.
The Teatro Real Chorus was at its usual good level, specially the male section, relevant in this work. They sounded powerful, tender in "Das Klinget so schön", deeply spiritual and humanistic in "O Isis und Osiris" and radiant with their female collegues in the Finale.
Anett Fritsch was the lead star of the night, with her dramatic, beautifully sung Pamina, with a nice and elegiac rendition of "Ach, ich fühl's" despite some troubles in high notes.
Andreas Wolf was a nicely sung and well acted Papageno. Ruth Rosique reprised her gorgeous Papagena which sounded as funny and well sung as it did in 2016.
Rafal Siwek was a good Sarastro with a remarkable bass voice, a good middle register even when some low register could sound a bit gutural. However, his version of "In diesem Heiligen Hallen" was great: serene, conveying the wisdom of the character with his singing. He also sang the part of the Speaker.
Paul Appleby was a correct Tamino, even when he started with a discrete version of "Dies bildnis ist bezauernd schön" but impoving during the performance, and well acted.
Rocío Pérez has a very nice voice for the Queen of the Night, but she hasn't too much volume. However, her technique was accurate since she proved to ccmmand the coloratura and the high notes. But what make her performance interesting was the fact that she worked on developing the character more than Ana Durlovski did in 2016, making credible her Queen's false grief in "O zittre nicht" , even with a beautiful pianissimo used, probably, for a dramatic effect. In "Der Hölle rache" her high notes went very well.
Mikeldi Atxalandabaso reprised his outstanding Monostatos as in 2016. His amazing spieltenor voice, which confirms him as the great next Mime, sounded again with his also great acting, making credible his Nosferatu-like Monostatos, even reminding Gerhard Stolze's great rendition under Solti.
The Three ladies, featuring the professional Gemma Coma-Alabert who sang despite being indisposed, as well as the Three child spirits were sung by excellent female singers, with the first three ones having a remarkable sense of comedy.
The audience had a great time, and like Die Walküre few days ago (both operas are being performed during these days in the same stage) the tickets were sold out and the seats totally occupied. It's Mozart, you always leave the theatre happy...but in this occasion the sensation is bittersweet. When the show ends, the charming world created by the staging's projections starts to be missed for sure.
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