Glyndebourne Festival: Die Zauberflöte

Five stars

Glyndebourne, Lewes, runs until August 24

YOU are either someone who dissects Mozart’s last opera for references to freemasonry or you’re there for a ludicrously plotted pantomime with some of the most sublime music ever written and famously hair-raising vocal pyrotechnics.

The best people are in the second camp, including Andre Barbe and Renaud Doucet, the dynamic design duo behind this ever-inventive production.

If Barbe and Doucet sound like a team from Wacky Races, in opera terms they are.

The action unfolds apace in the bowels of a busy Viennese hotel, with all the technically sublime notes and twiddly bits, playing fast and loose with the opera’s famed symbolism.

The most notable of which is the giant animated stove and boiler, with taps for eyes, that sing a duet about the challenges our hero Tamino must face with fire and water before he is worthy of the love of Pamina (honey-voiced Sofia Fomina).

High priest Sarastro (Brindley Sheratt) is the revered head chef of this Wes Anderson-esque establishment (there are spooky lobby boys, too).

If you think it’s all sounding too frothy, this production doesn’t shrink from doing serious properly.

As the curtain falls for a scene change behind “In diesen heil’gen Hallen” Sheratt, who could blow the lid off any opera house before breakfast, delivers this tender song of praise to the enduring human qualities of friendship and respect direct to an audience seeking refuge from divisive times.

Let’s stay with froth. On-trend for moon-landing weekend, Caroline Wettergreen’s stratospheric Queen of the Night is an absolute show-stopper, and Björn Bürger’s Papageno charms the birds from the trees... literally his job.

And if you’re one of those that thinks Mozart improves children, take yours to the live broadcast on August 4 and you’ll surprise yourself by having a lot of fun.

Eleanor Knight