Introducing... Die Zauberflöte
We take a look at our enchanting production of Mozart's masterpiece – Die Zauberflöte
In the video below, opera expert Alexandra Coghlan takes you behind the scenes to see how some of the production’s theatrical magic was created…
A brief introduction:
When Prince Tamino sees the beautiful Pamina he falls instantly in love. But she has been kidnapped by Sarastro, so with the help of bird-catcher Papageno he sets out on a quest to find her. Searching for love, Tamino finds much more than he bargained for. Faced with a decision he must choose between darkness and light, order and chaos, duty and desire. Which will it be?
Die Zauberflöte is one of Mozart’s most enchanting works. A fairytale that asks provocative and difficult questions about religion, the nature of power, the bonds of family, and of course love.
Why not to miss it:
Premiered at Festival 2019, this high-energy production of Die Zauberflöte sets the action in a Viennese hotel at the turn of the century. Praised as ‘Witty, irrepressible and unforgettable’ by The Guardian, this staging by celebrated director-design duo André Barbe and Renaud Doucet takes a fresh and playful look at Mozart’s great opera.
Hand-drawn designs and elaborate puppetry conjure up a ‘visual feast’ (Evening Standard) of detail and delight, finding a whimsical, inventive spirit that matches one of the composer’s most enchanting scores.
But just as Die Zauberflöte’s musical charm – its catchy melodies, lively comedy and colourful cast of characters – conceals a complex and ambiguous piece, so this production also has its serious side. Inspired by the pioneering women of the Suffragette movement, the production explores ideas of female power and desire, and asks how a woman can gain authority in a man’s world.
The beauty of Mozart’s operatic allegory is its adaptability. Whether you want an innocent comedy or something rather more sophisticated, it’s all here in this endlessly perplexing and fascinating work.
A great moment to look out for:
If you’re looking for the high point of Die Zauberflöte it doesn’t get much higher than the Queen of the Night’s Act II aria ‘Der Hölle Rache’. Originally composed as a showpiece for Mozart’s sister-in-law Josepha Hofer, the aria has been a favourite among coloratura sopranos ever since – a dazzling piece of musical magic and technical bravura that takes its singer right up to the very top of her range.
Here’s Caroline Wettergreen performing the aria in the Festival 2019 production:
Thwarted by Sarastro, the Queen of the Night orders her daughter Pamina to kill her enemy. Filled with rage, she explodes into this exhilarating aria that is part threat and part incantation.
Although the melody is a memorable one – full of chromatic aural drama, unexpected rhythmic emphasis and athletic vocal leaps – it’s the pitch that really sets this piece apart. The repeated high notes (which sound almost like a series of musical stabs; remember the Queen of the Night has just given Pamina a knife) are infamous. This is the music of a woman on the brink, an aria of extremity, desperation, maybe even madness.
Cast and creative team
This inventive, irresistible staging of Mozart’s final opera is created by Franco-Canadian director-design duo Barbe & Doucet. German conductor Constantin Trinks (recently praised for the ‘musical sensitivity’ and the ‘depth and richness’ of his performances) makes his Glyndebourne debut in the pit conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
An exciting young cast is led by American soprano Lauren Snouffer, a singer of ‘musical intelligence and onstage charm’ (Classical Voice America), who makes her Glyndebourne debut as Pamina, with tenor Paul Appleby (‘no praise was too high’ for his recent appearance as Jonathan in Glyndebourne’s Saul, said The Independent) as Tamino.
Rodion Pogossov (hailed as ‘wonderful’ as the hapless Don Geronio in 2021’s Il Turco Italia by The Telegraph) is the bird-catcher Papageno, with exciting young Polish soprano Aleksandra Olczyk as The Queen of the Night and ‘sonorous’ (MusicOMH) bass-baritone James Platt as Sarastro.
Image credits: Main image – photography by Westend61/Getty Images. Art direction & design by Ollie Winser