Sunday, March 3, 2019


The Magic Flute.

 Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Librettist Emanuel Schikaneder. Direction Suzanne Andrade, Barrie Kosky. Animation Paul Barritt. Conception 1927 (Suzanne Andrade and Paul Barritt}, Barrie Kosky. Set, costumes Esther Bialas. Dramaturgy Ulrich Lenz. Lighting Diego Leetz Komische Oper Berlin, Barrie Kosky  and 1927. Adelaide Festival in association with State Opera of South Australia, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Adelaide Festival Centre by arrangement with Arts Projects Australia. Festival Theatre Adelaide Festival Centre. March 1-3 2019.

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Andreas Bauer Kanabas as Sarastro in The Magic Flute. Photo: Tony Lewis
No hyperbole grand enough can do justice to Komische Oper Berlin’s  dazzling  re-imagining of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. In collaboration with animation creators, 1927, and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and State Opera Chorus under the baton of conductor, Jordan De Souza, Barrie Kosky’s genius expands our appreciation for and understanding of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s love story in images.

Tamino and the Three Ladies. Photo: Tony Lewis
Mozart wrote of the opera, “I survey it in my mind with a glance, Justas if it were a beautiful picture or a pretty girl, and hear it in my imagination, not one thing after another as it must come out, but everything together at once. All that finding and creating works within me, like a beautiful powerful dream.

Kosky, and 1927’s  Suzanne Andrade and Paul Barritt’s dreamscape finds realization in the mysterious worlds of silent film, and explosive animation. Like “in a beautiful and powerful dream.’ it is the  archetypal fairy tale, a quest by a prince to save a princess from an evil captor. And yet, it is a work too often stultified by tradition, wrapped in reverence to its time but ignorant of the very magic that is at the heart of this story of love’s ideal. It is therefore often obscure,  a distraction to an orchestral score without appreciation o
Aleksandra Olczyk as Queen of the Night. Photo: Tony Lewis
f the union of music and text, of music and image, of image and text.

This production is the liberation of all elements  manifest in one exquisitely told narrative. Prince Tamino {Aaron Blake} is ordered by an arachnoid  Queen of the Night {coloratura soprano, Aleksandra Olczyk) to rescue her beautiful daughter, Pamina (Kim-Lilian Strebel}, on threat of death and in reward of beauty and a wife. He is accompanied by Papageno, punished for being a teller of lies by three fur stole clad ladies of the Twenties{ Mirka Wagner, Maria Fiselier and Nadine Weissman) and three fair youths ,{Member of the Toelzer Knabenchor), depicted as fluttering moths who will offer sound advice to overcome the inevitable obstacles and trials set by the evil Sarastro {Andreas Bauer Kanabas) and his lustful servant Monastatos (Emil Lawecki). And so the quest begins,driven by a portrait of Pamina, in the image of silent film star Louise Brooks with the Lulu bob and face of pure innocence and the Magic Flute, an animated,  naked Pamina as Tinkerbell. Screen film titles guide the story through the endless display of chattering teeth, wolves and cats, flowers and machines, a ceaseless parade of images as rich in imagery as the dreamscapes of the sleeping mind. More than a silent film filled with action and titles to the dramatic sounds of the cinema organ, the production is a grand cornucopia of music, magnificently played by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, with images swirling about the intrepid travellers through this magical fantasy.

Kosky’s instinct for detail imbues his concept with startling clarity. Diego Leetz’s lighting reduces the cast to screen size images of the characters, perched it seems precariously on ledges in mid air. Esther Bialas’s set and costume designs transport us to the era of the silent movies, while absorbing ourselves in the rich and powerful texture of live performance. Dramaturg Ulrich Lenz preserves, but pares back the spirit and sentiment of Emanuel Schikaneder’s libretto. The English surtitles are sufficient to guide us through the adventures of Mozart’s fantasy world where love must endure before ultimately succeeding. Tamino  wins his Pamina andPapageno finds his Papagena (Talya Lieberman)  1927 transports us to a surreal world of dreams with its snatches of fears and desires that illuminate the human co

Magical and surreal, enchanting and illuminating, a panacea for all ills and a joyful revelry, Komische Oper’s triumphant storybook of fantasy, music and song, Kosky and 1927’s  inspirational production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute is one of those rare and unforgettable nights at the opera to be cherished forever.