An Opera for All Ages: The Magic Flute Review

Aliza, Age 15

An opera can sometimes be hard to understand since it’s usually sung in a foreign language and craning your neck to read subtitles doesn’t always make things any easier, so I was excited when I heard I would be able to see one without the language barrier.

I recently saw The Magic Flute directed by Alix Sideris and presented by Opera Lyra at the Arts Court Theatre. It was translated into English and condensed into a one hour show which makes it perfect for kids. The adaptation is set in a steam-punk outer space universe giving Mozart’s most performed opera new flare. The Magic Flute is about two planets who were once together and now separated. The Queen of the Night (from the Moon planet) sends her soldier Pamina (Eliza Johnson) to get the suncrest from Sarastro, the kind ruler of the sun planet, in an attempt to rule both planets. The Queen then sends Prince Tamino (Sean Clark) and bird-man Papageno (Cairan Ryan) to “save” Pamina from the supposedly evil Sarastro.

As you walk in to the theatre you are immediately in space. There are lights that look like stars projected on stage and a large orb that spins around to represent both the sun and the moon planets respectively. To my slight surprise Sarastro and his Council of Wisdom are played by and sang by a chorus of children. The children’s singing is good but when they aren’t with the adult actors it is a little distracting because during this performance the kids did fidget with their costumes. However, considering that they seem quite young I am amazed they can sit still and follow instructions in front of an audience for one full hour.

The Queen of the Night, played by Ania Hejnar, has a beautiful soprano voice, but better yet are her facial expressions which clearly show her character’s very vivid emotions. I found her to be very engaging to watch on stage. Another thing that really caught my eye, or rather my ear, was Papageno’s whistle. Ryan has to whistle many times in many different notes and it amazes me how he is able to hold a tune while whistling. All the vocal stylings for this show are great.  The ensemble actors have great projection and it was easy to understand all of the lyrics. The vocals are accompanied by their pianist, Judith Ginsburg, who performs all of Mozart’s music with ease.

Not only is the music great but so are the costumes. The Queen has a full red dress with peacock feather details at the hips. The costume designer, Sarah Waghorn, really pays attention to detail especially on Pamina’s costume. She has goggles around her head and many medals on her chest to represent her military standing. Every costume is well thought out and even Ginsburg and stage manager Katerina Sokyrko have costumes as well. The costumes really compliment each other nicely.

Overall, the show is well put together and blends many elements in order to create this unique otherworldly atmosphere. The adaptation is one that is suitable for both adults and kids because it manages to simplify the content without sacrificing great performances. If you’ve never seen an opera before, The Magic Flute by Opera Lyra is a great introduction.