Bethan Langford, Jeni Bern, Sioned Gwen Davies (Three Ladies) and Peter Gijsbertsen (Tamino) in The Magic Flute. Scottish Opera 2019. Credit James Glossop (2)
Maria McQuillan, Arts & Entertainments Co-Editor.
I’d always wanted to go see an opera, but always found the prospect rather daunting. what if it was too high brow for me? Would I get it? So when I got the opportunity to go see the Scottish Opera production of Mozart’s Magic Flute at the Grand Opera House, I leapt at it. The Magic Flute, is a classic opera, mixing tragedy and comedy in a simple premise (with a few twists and turns that keep the audience guessing). It’s a fabulous opera, and the Scottish Opera more than did it justice in their performance.
The music (of course, performed live by a brilliant orchestra) was fantastic, and the singing and acting by the cast was wonderful. I really enjoyed how melodramatic it all was, and how the performers really played to their audience, in scenes both tragic and comedic. There were many marvellous key moments in the play but two in particular that really struck me. Number one, and my personal favourite, was the scene where the Queen of the Night (played by Julia Sitkovetsky) sings her famous aria. The tune was instantly recognisable to me and it was otherworldly to hear it sung live and so beautifully. The other standout performance was by James Cleverton as Papageno, when he sang “Pa-pa pa Papageno”, a humorous piece where he sings, desperately trying to find his missing love interest Papagena. It was a spectacularly funny performance, and he had the whole audience laughing along with him. Whilst I have highlighted these two performers, the entire cast were superb, and note perfect at every point. Amazingly, for some of them, it was their debut. It was a really wonderful performance and unsurprisingly, they received a standing ovation when they gave their bows.
Julia Sitkovetsky (The Queen of the Night) in The Magic Flute. Scottish Opera 2019. Credit James Glossop
This version, it must be noted, is a follow up to an original reimagining of the opera from 2012. After seeing this performance, it’s not difficult to understand why they revived this version. It’s a clever, visually stunning and enjoyable reimaging of the story. This production added Victorian, Gothic and steampunk elements to the aesthetic of the story, which only added to the story, rather than diminishing the story or its enjoyability. The costumes and staging were really spectacular. I particularly loved the costumes of the Queen of the Night and her three Ladies. Each were dressed as different aspects of the moon and the night sky, and their dark gauzy costumes were covered in tiny lights, so they glowed onstage, particularly in the darker scenes. It was a beautifully effective way to visually represent their characters.
As my first introduction to opera, it was absolutely brilliant. I’ll definitely be going back again.
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