Opera Up Close have done something I would never have thought possible, it’s unique, crazy and a lot of good fun. They are calling it ‘The Magic Flute’ by Mozart, but what Glyn Maxwell who wrote the libretto has done is something altogether more unique. Using the music and the characters from The Magic Flute, Maxwell has created a story which is inspired by the original, with a lot of similarities in some respects but created a new opera.
It is The Magic Flute, but it’s a modern interpretation and makes it very accessible for anyone wanting to attend. The story is really based on a dream of Tamino, after a fight with his partner Pamina. Along for the ride in the dream is Papageno, Papagena, Sarastro and the Queen of the Night.
One reason that, in my mind makes it essential to see this production is just to watch the overture performed in part on an electric guitar (epic), it works incredibly well. Another genius move is that with Papageno, in the traditional opera, his signature musical piece is his whistle and in this production, it is replaced with the ringtone of his mobile phone which is a perfect interpretation.
There are two casts of six for this production, the cast that I saw was fantastic all round but there were two in particular that I loved: Tom Stoddart who played Papageno was not just a great singer but the charisma he had, his acting, his entire performance was spot on and to be perfectly honest, I would go back and see it again just for that performance. The other stand-out for me was Abigail Kelly who played Pamina, like with Stoddart her performance really made the production. As her character switched between reality and dream she was able to portray a number of different personality aspects and she was accomplished at all, being caring and loving to heartbroken to funny.
Valentina Ceschi who directed it, Glyn Maxwell, the writer and Opera Up Close should be congratulated on a truly original modern and very relevant interpretation of The Magic Flute. It tackles homelessness and sexism as well as the perils of internet dating and relationships. You will have never seen a fresher or creative take on this opera and I for one believe that the more of this style that can be produced, the better. It provokes so many exciting questions not just about the content, the issues it raises and the production itself, but about the original opera and everything in between- a true must see.