The Magic Flute – Welsh National Opera – Bristol Hippodrome REVIEW

Welsh National Opera’s Spring 2019 programme brings a trio of The Magic Flute, Roberto Devereux and Un ballo in maschera.

The Magic Flute is the opera that intrigued me the most, and after seeing the WNO’s production of Die Fledermaus and loving it, I had hopes.

Welsh National Opera never fails to deliver when it comes to vocals and this productions were as exquisite as ever. Teamed with a full orchestra and delicious scores by Mozart, the entire evening was a treat for the ears.

Audio aside I felt production was let down by some sub par acting by most of the cast. The exception to this rule was Papageno who’s daft flapping and witty one liners were devoured by the audience.

The scenery was clever and possibly one of my favourite visual elements. The set was raised with the bounds of what was possible to be pushed further with heads popping out the floor and a corridor of doors seeming to go on forever.

Some of these visual elements made sense. However some went straight over my head… giant lobster, floating bicycles, lions reading The Times newspaper and clockwork orange ensemble outfits. It was all rather strange which kept you engaged and questioning but I can’t say I completely understood the relevance!

I think the problem with this production was pace. It started off well, with the plot moving at a good speed but quickly began to drag as the score took over.

Don’t get me wrong it’s a delicious score, brilliantly performed and expertly conducted by the mesmerising Damian Iorio and I could have quite easily enjoyed it as a concert.

But the plot was almost too simple for the length of the production and amount of pieces of music in it. It had to be stretched across nearly three hours and to make that work it had to drop into a lower gear and sometimes linger on plot points for a painful amount of time.

Some of the audience had already sussed this by the end of the first half and left in the interval (or nodded off), leaving at least eight empty seats immediately next to me… And in my opinion the second half was slower…

I still enjoyed the show from an operatic sense, and was blown away by the talented singers but felt the plot and pace meant it lacked as an overall production.

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