Charming the Ear: A Perspective from our Musical Director

Each time one opens the score of The Magic Flute, one discovers a freshness and energy that is both immediate and profound. Add to that a storyline full of magic, mystery, drama and wit, and you begin to understand why it has become one of Mozart’s most beloved and popular operas.

Being the last member of the team to join Opera Otago’s production of the opera this week, I was excited to see John Drummond’s ‘renovation’, bringing the 223-year old work into 21st century New Zealand. The incorporation of modern-day technology, Shakespearian nods and contemporary humour were aspects I particularly enjoyed, and the delivery by a wonderfully talented cast made me laugh my way through most of the first run.

What I didn’t expect I’d enjoy most though, were the New Zealand accents throughout the dialogue (with the exception of our imported Papageno, Tyler Neumann from the U.S. via Palmerston North). Being around down-to-earth Kiwis reminded me of just how much I miss New Zealand whilst abroad, despite my first earthquake experience and extreme flooding within days of arriving in Dunedin!

It has been a privilege and joy to explore the music with the orchestra, to whom Mozart has given a vibrant and virtuosic score. [Read more about this in Tessa Petersen’s post and Kurt Murphy’s post]. Aside from the fun, there are real moments of heart-racing drama – the rollercoaster-ride of young love, heartbreak and loss, and the struggle of revenge and reason.

Even in these more serious moments, Mozart’s music never seems to succumb to despair. He famously said himself: “Music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music.”

Mozart’s The Magic Flute still speaks to us today because it reminds us that we all need a little magic in our lives, and that perhaps music is the most magical art of all.


Post by Tianyi Lu, Musical Director

P.S. Have you bought your tickets yet?? Opening night is only a week away! Buy them here 🙂

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