ENO at The Coliseum: 1st October – 17th October
Original Direction: Nicholas Hytner
Revival Direction: Ian Rutherford
Conductor: Martin Andre
Reviewed by: John Garfield-Roberts
This is allegedly the twelfth and final time this production will be revived, but a revival nearly once every 18 months, one has to stand back and cast some doubts over that claim and go with a wait and see mentality. For myself only 7 years old when Hytner’s production first took place on stage at the Coliseum, I was glad that 19 years later, and only just finding my way with Opera I had a chance to see this enchanted production.
Hytner’s production is strong, and with simple but effective staging it really embellishes the strong magical and fairytale like themes that run throughout this enjoyable and accessible opera.
Rutherford has been able to bring to this revival a great pace and lightness to an opera (the bears for example) which can be at times very moralistic and religiously heavy. This production brings a talented cast together, especially the strong and very comic Roderick Williams who plays his Papageno with a real flourish of comedy and panache – played as a Yorkshire man one might feel that this may be a slight dig by ‘intelligent’ southerners about how they view us northern counterparts. The Three Ladies, two of which are members of the ENO young singers company, sang beautifully, harmonising together like a well oiled machine.
Credit must also be given to Jacob Moriarty, Ben Meyer and Thomas Pinker (3 boys), these young professionals gave a performance that was sympathetic to the role, but also had a power to their voices, a strong clarity and diction, and a level of performance that outweighed that of some of their older more experienced cast members.
What shocked me about this performance is that this opera is quite book heavy, and I would of expected an all round ability when it came to the performances, what shocked me to the core was how dreadful some of the acting ability of this cast was, never have I encountered such a bland and drab leading lady as that of Sarah-Jane Davies’ Pamina, she may have a voice like an angel but her acting ability doesn’t even come close.
All in all this production hits all the right notes, amazing staging, amazing voices, that one might think after the last two shakey productions at the ENO (Kismet & Carmen), that maybe The Magic Flute deserves more scheduled performances than the seven it is receiving.
Photos by Robert Workman and show Top – Roderick Williams (Papageno) Bottom – Antonia Sotgui, Madeline Shaw, Mairead Buicke (Three Ladies) Andrew Kennedy (Tamino)