Review from Elizabeth Bouman
The Magic Flute
Mayfair Theatre Saturday 13th June.
“It’s a brave and brilliant man of music who dares to take one of Mozart’s best loved operas and totally rewrite the libretto for this century. But Dunedin’s John Drummond did just that to (Open Italics) The Magic Flute(Close Italics), and Opera Otago’s opening night packed Mayfair Theatre audience loved every word of it.
Call it what you will – “morphed Mozart” or “Mozart makeover,” but 2015 English text worked splendidly for this 1791 comedy opera, as its fantasy plot and characters relocated to a world of corporate business and environmental extremists. Production was led by Drummond, and international conductor Tianyi Lu directed a ten-piece orchestral ensemble with stylistic excellence for the familiar arias and vocal ensembles.
The roar of a Harley heralds the entrance of leather-clad Queen of the Night (Ingrid Fomison-Nurse) C.E.O. of currencies and commodities company Night Inc., as three formally attired highly-motivated P.A’s jab frantically on their iphones (Claire Barton, Beth Goulstone and Julia Moss-Pearson). Papageno the Company Birdcatcher is played by Tyler Neumann, whose delightful antics produce much humour as the plot leads him to find true love with Poppy Gainer (Alexandra Clearwater).
Sophie Sparrow plays Pamina with confident vocal strength matching the more experienced singer James Adams, who as Tamino Prince sets out on holiday, but ultimately falls in love with Pamina – initially through her photo on a tablet! There’s a selfie, encounters with Girl Guides and Community members, but eventually he finds Pamina in the environmentally conscious Community of Isis and Osiris, led by Sarastro (Robert Lindsay) and security officer Monostatos (Ben Madden).
Brenda Rendall costumed with jeans, designer tops, business suits and heels, and plain monastic robing for Sarastro and his “community of greenies.” The young cast, mainly from University of Otago alumni and current students, displayed vocal prowess, dramatic interpretations and professionalism which are a credit to their tutors. With English diction and great music this unique operatic experience deserves a season of full houses.”