It was a perfect evening when I went to Garsington - not too hot, not too cold, but mild enough to sit comfortably by the lake and watch the ducklings, or wander around the gardens and spot actors from that night's production of The Magic Flute. The roaming performers gave the evening an air of
I wasn't very familiar with The Magic Flute - my prior exposure to Mozart's most famous opera comes via the episode of Inspector Morse where he's framed for murder, potentially by the Freemasons - so I was glad to have the synopsis in my programme. However, with the first burst of music from the orchestra (cunningly concealed beneath the stage), I was pulled straight into the action. As director and designer Netia Jones and conductor Christian Curnyn noted in their interview published in the programme, the minimalist stage precluded the tricks and contraptions that are usually associated with The Magic Flute; however, this made the performances, costuming and staging stand out all the more strongly. Louise Alder was an assertive and sparky Pamina, at one point chasing her attackers away with a shotgun, while Jonathan McGovern had the audience laughing out loud with his performance as the irascible Papageno. The Queen of the Night, played by Sen Guo, was a chilling and yet sympathetic figure, with a pitch-perfect performance of her famous aria.
The Garsington production of The Magic Flute took the black-and-white morality of the original story and added interesting levels of complexity; many of the bad characters were morally grey rather than pure evil, while the good characters could, at times, be rather sinister. The interior of the
Garsington's The Magic Flute was a joyful and engaging performance, and the audience was buzzing with enthusiasm throughout the show. If you get a chance, do head along and immerse yourself in the beautiful music, singing and setting of this fun and delightfully silly opera.