Thursday, October 24, 2013

'The Magic Flute' - Tobacco Factory Theatre

For what it's worth. Prince Tamino and his Sancho Panza-esque companion, the bird-catcher Papageno, get to meet the 'Queen of the Night' who bids the Prince to rescue her abducted daughter Pamina. The daughter is being held by the High Priest Sarastro and his acolytes at the temple of Isis and Osiris.

Our two heroes duly arrive at the temple where they are subjected to three trials (which mostly seem to involve being quiet when people talk to you). After success, Prince Tamino wins the hand of Princess Pamino, and Papageno gets a raucous chick of his own buffoonish persuasion.

It turns out the High Priest Sarastro is the good guy, and the Queen was vengeful and spiteful.

You don't go to opera to enjoy the intricacies of the sophisticated plot.

'The Magic Flute' stage 15 minutes before the start

I kept being distracted by the way performers seemed to be someone else. The bird-catcher clown looked (and behaved) very much liked UKIP leader Nigel Farage on steroids; the director of music was a double for TV cook Nigel Slater (or possibly Louis Theroux); Princess Pamina seemed the reincarnation of Clare's niece Jane; the High Priest Sarastro look like Brian Blessed operating at 30% capacity. I thought the Prince was adequate while extravert-birder Papageno stole the show.

The orchestra warms up

Still, a fine, professional performance and the music of Mozart. The visceral reality of real people doing stuff a few feet away gets to beat hyper-engineered imagery any day, no matter how good film-making gets these days.