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The Magic Flute, Pavilion Theatre, Brighton May 23
Glyndebourne Education were determined to demystify Mozart’s opera, cheerfully introducing the five performers.
Enthusiastic musical director Dominic Harlan leapt off his piano stool with Tigger-like energy to teach the audience a song about magic and music.
The cast got into character by donning stunning costumes on top of their simple white clothes. Innocent princess Pamina wore a turquoise shift trailing flowers, while Papageno had an elaborately feathered cape and headdress.
“Ooh, what’s he got in there?” enquired one excited child as he emerged clutching a birdcage.
Unassuming Scottish flautist Stephen Clark made an innocent everyman as protagonist Tamino.
The stagecraft was effective: Pamina’s captivity was demonstrated by entangling her arms in strips of fabric while she gave expressive, anguished looks; and whirling red ribbons created the impression of fire.
When coloratura soprano Ann de Renais, intimidating in a spangled black velvet cloak, launched into the Queen of the Night’s challenging aria, the children listened with a flutter of curiosity, rather than laughing or disengaging.
At the end, the performers invited questions from the audience, describing the challenge of opera as, “like weightlifting for singers” and explaining that this impressive production was created in only six days of rehearsals.