The Magic Flute & Julietta
ENO’s season opens with a classy revival and a modern classic
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Firstly, The Magic Flue is a prefect introduction to opera. Anyone that thinks the medium is a stuffy, elitist pursuit would be blown away by the pace, comedy and inventiveness of this revival. There is so much that would make it appealing to a younger gay audience, if only they would see it differently.
Such as the hunky baritone Duncan Rock, who makes an excellent Papageno - managing to coax live birds onstage and deal with audience proposals of marriage. And we don’t think you can argue that the three female servants to The Queen of The Night weren’t influenced by drag queens. Their final scene with the cannon, all in black veils was a total flashback to Divine and her criminal chums:
Which is to say, amazing. It’s been going for 23 years, and this is your last chance to catch the production. We suggest you do.
Of course the knowing, straight up comedy of that Mozart stalwart contrasts sharply with that of Julietta, which we also had the fortune of seeing this week.
In short, it’s bonkers. Characters repeatedly accuse eachother of talking nonsense, which they do. The plot revolves around a book seller called Michel Lepic who returns to a village that has been struck down en masse with amnesia. As such, everyone makes things up (and promptly forget them too) and the whole opera is the gradual unhinging of a mind, pinned around a fleeting love-at-first-sight love story.
Like The Magic Flute, this is also astoundingly funny, but in a surreal way. The sets and costumes and characters are all thrillingly wonky, epitomised by the mesmerisingly hammy Fortune Teller. There are sporadic burst of frenetic energy that raised huge laughs for us for no other reason than their weirdness – when the whole cast appears to scramble across the stage, including a blind man with a stick, we couldn’t help but laugh and we’ve no idea why. You probably need a warped sense of humour for this one, but it’s also a treat.
The Magic Flute revival and Julietta are just part of ENO’s new season:
Check out the production dates here
Photo: Bob Workman