This double cast production is far from sold out and if you fancy some beautifully staged Mozart, The Magic Flute could be one for you
The Magic Flute
Royal Opera House, Londen Until October 7
David McVicar’s production of Rigoletto from 2001 has just been pensioned off, but happily not this Magic Flute from two years later.
It’s been a real banker for the Royal Opera and on this, its tenth revival, restaged by Daniel Dooner, comes up fresh as paint. John Macfarlane’s designs are among the most beautiful in any Royal Opera production before or since and are a treat to the eye throughout.
This double cast production is far from sold out and if you fancy some beautifully staged Mozart, this could be one for you. Especially since it’s so well conducted by the veteran kapellmeister, 78-year-old Hartmut Haenchen, using traditional tempi and dynamics.
As the run is double cast, perhaps inevitably the singing is a bit mixed.
I wouldn’t hurry back to hear the Georgian soprano Salome Jicia’s Pamina but debutante Brenda Rae’s Queen of the Night (hierbo) is impressive in her second aria
Undoubted star of this first cast is the Sarastro of the Polish bass Krzysztof Baczyk, who did so well in Glyndebourne’s Luisa Miller this summer, and is even better here. Baczyk is an imposing figure, with a voice that, without strain, encompasses all of Sarastro’s low notes, which most Sarastros, in my experience, moenie.
His dignity and bearing helps McVicar present the duality Mozart, in his final opera, surely sought – part pantomime, part hymn of praise to The Enlightenment.
I wouldn’t hurry back to hear the Georgian soprano Salome Jicia’s Pamina, not least because her contribution to the spiel bit of this singspiel is so annoying to the ear. Nor does Bernard Richter’s stolid Tamino inspire.
But debutante Brenda Rae’s Queen of the Night is impressive in her second aria, though not in the first.
Presumably that will improve later in the run. Much better throughout is young Huw Montague Rendall’s charming Papageno the birdcatcher.
The son of two notable British singers (another Brit in a leading role, hallelujah) he makes a real impression. More please.