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Review: The Magic Flute at The King’s Head

Charles Court Opera’s adds a wacky jungle twist to a Mozart favourite

11 May, 2017 — By seb

Robin Balley as Tamino. Photo: Bill Night

Reputedly, Mozart’s Magic Flute is the most popular of all operas, with a new production opening every week in some country around the world.

As each has a different spin, you’d think it would be difficult to come up with something really fresh, lively and witty. But Charles Court Opera has managed to do just this with its new Flute being staged at the King’s Head Theatre until June 3.

The production is located in the depths of the Amazon jungle in South America, verdant foliage covering the walls and ceilings. And the tone is set at the very opening. Explorer Prince Tamino has lost his way and stumbled into an animal rope trap. The three ladies fall for him as they release him from the trap, only for Papageno to arrive, playing his magical flute. Then Monostatos arrives, wielding a double-barrel gun.

Visually, it’s a treat throughout, flamboyant jungle costumes complemented by clever use of jungle bird puppies and masks.

A particularly strong scene is Papageno’s trial by the old woman. She’s got up as a monster with a huge head held up by the three ladies inside an enveloping cape – and poor Papageno has to pledge his love for her before Papagena emerges from inside the monster.

Most other scenes are equally well done delivering a cascade of fun having the audience in stitches.

Although Mozart’s wonderful orchestra score is missed woefully, the dynamic piano accompaniment keeps the piece rolling on apace.
Fine singing is blessed by good diction, Robin Bailey as Tamino, Matthew Kellet as Papageno and Emily Jane Thomas as Pamina being outstanding.

A fun evening for Flute aficionados up to speed with the plot – but also for novices out for a wacky time away from their phones.

• Mozart’s The Magic Flute runs until June 3 at the King’s Head Theatre, 115 Upper Street, Islington, N1. 7pm, Sundays 3pm. 020 7226 8561, www.kingsheadtheatre.com

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