The Magic Flute, Waterperry Gardens, Thursday 25th July 2019
I’m no opera aficionado, but I now have affection for the Waterperry Opera Festival. The first (and last) opera I saw was in
The show itself was equally delightful. A helpful synopsis is provided in the programme, narrating a somewhat nonsensical story involving enchanted instruments, quasi-magical children, a vague conflict between factions and, of course, lots of love. Really, however, the show was not about the story, and all about the characters and the music.
A delightful cast of individuals were brought to life by our young and talented performers. Particularly charming was the hapless Papageno (Nicholas Morton), whose slightly silly, but not hammy, style immediately endeared him to everyone. Our lead Tamino (John Porter) of course put forth with a full and rich voice, and special mention should go to our Queen of the Night (Eleanor Penfold) for delivering her tricky signature song (which even I recognised) flawlessly.
Sung and spoken in modern English to a surprisingly funny translation by Jeremy Sams, the performance felt modern and accessible. I even laughed, actually laughed, out loud at some of the quips and lines. Not at all what I was expecting from Mozart.
A whole 90 minutes were given way to the interval, and guests are encouraged to bring a picnic to share in the wondrous grounds. I really can’t overstate how much this added to the whole experience. The weather was clement, the gardens enchanting and the whole thing was just so ridiculously civilised I would not have been surprised to see Mr Darcy walk by. Towards the end of the interval, patrons were summoned back from their leisurely picnic by a polite trail of trumpets. So, so classy.
Yet despite the outrageously high civilisation quotient, nothing felt aloof or exclusive. I am by no means an opera-and-stately-homes sort of guy, and not once did I feel uncomfortable or out of place. I think this comes down to the playful air which Laura Attridge’s direction lent the performance.
The combination of setting, performance and direction made the whole event a truly magical experience. We plant to buy tickets next year as a special present for others. You might consider buying them as a present for yourself.