Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Opera Australia – Mozart's The Magic Flute. January 30, 2009.

Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Seat Circle J22 (AUD 140).

Ollivir-Philippe Cuneo – Conductor; Tamino – Andrew Goodwin, Papageno – Warwick Fyfe, Queen of the Night – Emma Pearson, Pamina – Emma Matthews (ill), Monostatos – Kanen Breen, Sarastro – Daniel Sumegi.

Story. See previous blog.

Anne, Tim, Ruth, Alyson and I saw this opera together. All in all, it was a good experience. It is difficult not to compare the performance with the Met, but I thought Opera Australia acquitted itself quite well this time.

I have always found Mozart's comic operas to be just so-so. The Magic Flute is helped by the nice tunes and fancy staging. The Opera House is smaller than the Met, so the experience felt a bit more intimate.

While the staging was not as rapid-fire as the Met's, it had its attractive qualities. The changes from scene to scene were more subtle, so before you realize it the scenary has moved from a forest to a palace. There were lots of acrobats (“Legs on the Wall” per the program leaflet) hanging around, which to me was a bit puzzling. The designers (stage and costume) aren't as obsessed with the number “three” as the Met's, so we were not flooded with that reference. They did pay homage to the free masons by having their logo projected on the screen at times.

The most memorable songs are sung by the Queen of the Night. She has an important aria in each of the two Acts. The one in the second act calls for a high F, which Pearson couldn't quite reach. Otherwise she did a commendable job.

The “regular” Pamina was ill, so a substitute (Quan, I think) filled in for her. She did an admirable job.

The opera was written in German. In this production the songs were sung in German, and the dialog was in English. With their Australian accent (and Chinese in the case of Pamina), the actors were at times difficult to understand. Too bad they didn't provide English subtitles for the dialog.

I am glad I didn't dish out $15 for the program. Fool me twice, shame on me.

The Sydney Morning Herald gave the performance a mixed review.


S said...

Her name is Hye Seoung Kwon. She's Korean-Australian.

Anonymous said...

Indeed...Ms. Kwon...voice of an angel! but the accent... argh...I couldn't understand her lines...but what a magnificent voice!