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Music Pages

Sir Thomas Allen’s new Magic Flute opens in Glasgow

22 October 2012, Glasgow, Scotland

Pamina (Laura Mitchell) cowers at the feet of the Queen of the Night (Mari Moriya)
Pamina (Laura Mitchell) cowers at the feet of the Queen of the Night (Mari Moriya)(Photo: KK Dundas)

Review by Neil Jones

In this new Scottish Opera production of The Magic Flute directed by Sir Thomas Allen, Sarastro’s temple and his followers had a decidedly Industrial Revolution feel, complete with smoke, leather- and helmet-clad workers, and supervisors and managers in frock coats and top hats.

Simon Higlett’s curving set of wheeled metal spiral staircases and balconies was as busy as it was intriguing. Rolling back and forth throughout the opera to reveal sliding doors at the rear, it was from here that the first monster and later the Queen of the Night emerged, spectacularly costumed in an illuminated dress and enormous black cloak.

The Queen’s singing, delivered by the diminutive Japanese soprano Mari Moriya, was no less spectacular. Moriya’s effortless top F in ‘Der Hölle Rache’ was the very least of her simply electrifying performance.

Indeed, with one exception, the singing of the leading protagonists was very strong. Nicky Spence was a believable Tamino, Laura Mitchell demonstrated a convincing fragility as Pamina whilst Claire Watkins, Rachel Hynes and Louise Collett were suitably gruesome as First, Second and Third Lady respectively.

Richard Burchard was brilliant as Papageno with Ruth Jenkins delightful in her all-too-short appearances as Papagena. Jonathan Best was commanding as Sarastro although he struggled to meet the demands of the lower notes in Mozart’s score.

The real star of the show though was the extraordinarily witty translation by Kit Hesketh-Harvey. 

ON TOUR Aberdeen, His Majesty's Theatre: 1, 3 Nov; Inverness, Eden Court Theatre: 7, 10 Nov; Edinburgh, Festival Theatre: 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 Nov; Belfast, Grand Opera House: 29 Nov, 1 Dec 

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