Enter Tamino, pursued by a serpent. In the original version, this is the opening action of Mozart’s Magic Flute. It’s the usual sort of thing handsome princes have to put up with, along with falling in love at the drop of a hat, and going on a quest to rescue a maiden in distress, both of which Tamino goes on to do in remarkably short order.
But what if you’re not a handsome prince?
What if you’re a bookish, naive young lad on a walking holiday, and you just happen to find yourself in the middle of a fairytale?
John [Drummond]’s renovation of the Magic Flute puts Tamino in an entirely new set of shoes. A quest might be de rigueur for Prince Tamino, but it’s scarily unfamiliar to Tamino Prince.
It’s a fresh angle on a well worn character, and it’s a welcome challenge for me. The “handsome prince” is a well known trope, and it’s easy to fall into a stereotypical pattern; the new Tamino demands a new look at the character, reassessing his place in the drama, the way he responds to the challenges in front of him, and how he changes as a result.
A remarkable thing, though, is going back to the music with fresh eyes…to find that Mozart, from 200 odd years ago, is way ahead of me. The excitement, doubt, resolution of the character is all there – I’m sure the “handsome prince” was already a familiar idea in 1791, but Mozart’s handling of his music shows an attention to character detail that indicates he, at least, had no truck with stereotypes.
As always, Mozart’s elegant music is deceptively demanding. Each rehearsal, we find another nuance, another layer of character, another technical demand to come to grips with – everything opera should be. Just without a handsome prince…
…Well, at least he’s still handsome. If I say so myself.
Post by James Adams (Tamino)