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The Magic Flute Press Reviews

 

‘a riot from start to finish, finely crafted, vividly characterised, and teeming with telling detail, from the Magritte-like floating boy guides to the voluptuous yet lascivious ladies sent by the Queen of the Night. There’s hardly a weak link in the exceptional cast. Richard Burkhard’s hilarious wide-boy Papageno threatens to steal the show (making the most of Kit Kesketh-Harvey’s arch English translation), and Mari Moriya’s dark Queen sparkles both visually and vocally. Laura Mitchell has some limpidly beautiful moments as a fragile Pamina, and Nicky Spence glows as Tamino. Conductor Ekhart Wycik summons sprightly playing in the pit, rich yet transparent…it’s a thrilling show, expertly executed and most importantly, a real hoot.’
***** The Scotsman

 

‘dark, atmospherically-lit, and absolutely enthralling. It’s sung in English, and accompanied by subtitles. Last night it was totally lucid and supremely articulated. It’s wonderfully cast with Nicky Spence a splendid Tamino, the Pamina of Laura Mitchell gloriously impassioned, and a fantastically weasel-like Monostatos by Peter Van Hulle…and unquestionable star of the show, Richard Burkhard’s Papageno, endlessly witty and frequently hilarious. Mari Moriya’s blinding Queen of the Night will stop you in your tracks, but what will stop your heart is your first sighting of the Threee Boys: I won’t spoil the moment. The orchestra plays out of its skin for Ekhart Wycik, and the whole thing is a triumph.’
**** The Herald
 

 

‘It’s a feast of visual delight, often quoting industrial-age Glasgow. Director Thomas Allen has sung Papageno enough times to know the opera inside-out and it shows: he remains a singer’s director, keeping movement simple to let his cast sing their best. Richard Burkhard’s excellent Papageno is full-voiced and sweetly funny. Nicky Spence is a perfect fit as Tamino, an easy actor with a smooth, bright tenor. Laura Mitchell makes a lovely Pamina’
**** The Guardian

 

 

‘[Sir Thomas Allen’s]…new show for Scottish Opera is one of the most entertaining and ingenious productions of Mozart’s final stage work I have seen…Allen and his designer Simon Higlett, draw a fruitful parallel between Emanuel Schikaneder’s famously rowdy Freihaus Theatre in Vienna…and the equally ebullient audiences in Glasgow’s early 20th-century variety theatres. From the moment in the overture when Richard Burkhard’s blissfully funny, prickly and athletic Papageno, doubling as master of ceremonies, plucks the charming, ardent Nicky Spence out of the audience to play Tamino, the action has the rumbustious exuberance and the gaudy look of an old-time music hall at full pelt.… Laura Mitchell’s delicately sung Pamina, Ruth Jenkins’s gleeful Papagena, Peter van Hulle’s Captain Hook-like Monostatos, three feisty, magnificently upholstered Ladies and three excellent wraith-like boys contribute to a true ensemble show. As does Ekhart Wycik’s punchy, pungent conducting. Fun from first note to last.’
**** The Times
 

‘you can rely on Scottish Opera to get the music right. The orchestra, under Ekhart Wycik, manages to navigate Mozart’s complex instrumentation with a commendably light touch, and the singing is mostly faultless, notably Mari Moriya’s majestic Queen of the Night, Laura Mitchell’s playful Pamina and Nicky Spence’s fluent Tamino.’
Daily Express

 

 

‘Music-hall variety and steampunk, industrial-revolution design drive Scottish Opera’s brilliantly crowd-pleasing new Magic Flute…Simon Higlett’s seven-windowed rotunda design is stunning and practical…Mark Jonathan makes full use of small, modern light-sources in his clever lighting…Kit Hesketh-Harvey’s often earthy translation gives plenty of space for asides and embellishments in the comic business. The Ladies of the Night relish the freedom as does Papageno. There’s balance, though, ensuring that the mysticism of Tamino’s ordeals are not swamped…Ekhart Wycik drives the excellent Orchestra of Scottish Opera with feeling and understanding.’
The Stage
 

 

 

‘a sure-footed and brightly entertaining production of The Magic Flute…the fun being had on stage spreads over the footlights. Richard Burkhard is a dapper Papageno, all the more charming for not being too cuddly and definitely the star of the show. But Nicky Spence sings sweetly and musically as a gentlemanly Tamino, and Mari Moriya nails the Queen of the Night’s coloratura with pin-point accuracy…With Ekhart Wycik leading the orchestra in a spry and lithe account of the score, the show is a winner’
**** The Daily Telegraph

 

‘this new production is a joyful riot: full of high comedy, raucous ad libs (with Kith Hesketh-Harvey’s free and witty translation as the starting point), a fiendish eye for detail and, above all, overflowing with compassion…The cast is blessed with one of the funniest Papagenos since Allen himself: Richard Burkhard…sang beautifully but also proved himself a natural comedian, with a touch of the Eric Idle in his boyish clowning and bendy physicality…As Tamino, the tenor Nicky Spence, abundantly talented vocally and also a good actor…The Three Boys, dressed in white, sang angelically…The Three Ladies (Claire Watkins, Rachel Hynes, Louise Collett), all salivating over Tamino, were cheeky, glittery and sparky. The excellent chorus, and Laura Mitchell’s tender, light-toned Pamina, deserve mention.’
The Observer
 

 

‘...utterly bonkers yet unspeakably brilliant. As with Danny Boyle’s Olympic shows, Sir Thomas Allen’s radical re-imagining of Mozart’s last stage work is unexpected, inventive and visually stunning. Throughout the entire first half, every new character and scene leaves the audience slack-jawed with amazement or gasping in surprise: whatever will happen next? Yet while the theatrical backdrop (brainchild of designer Simon Higlett) is a beguiling mash-up of Vaudeville, Jules Verne era science fiction and shadows from Glasgow’s industrial past, the music – from the excellent Orchestra of Scottish Opera conducted by Ekhart Wycik – is recognisably Mozart at his best…The performances across the board are first-rate: happy-go-lucky bird-hunter Papageno (Richard Burkhard) is the undoubted star of the show, creating a laughable, loveable, roguish character who balances energetic physical performance with wonderful singing…The entrance of the Queen of the Night (Mari Moriya) is one of the stand-out moments of the performance…Equally wonderful are the Three Ladies…and the Three Boys…this new Magic Flute is outstanding, a production of international quality, and a fitting flagship to celebrate Scottish Opera’s 50th anniversary.’
**** Scottish Mail on Sunday

 

 

‘[Director Sir Thomas] Allen’s acknowledged references soon come thick and fast, taking in not just Victorian Glasgow’s shipyard workers, miners and nurses but its scientists too, in an attempt to reflect the work’s roots in the Enlightenment. Allen has an enthusiastic accomplice in the designer Simon Higlett, whose fantastical set ingeniously fuses a steam-age boiler room with the galleries of an anatomical lecture theatre…the show has a star in Richard Burkhard’s warmly sung Papageno’
**** The Sunday Telegraph

 

 

'Simon Higlett's decor and costumes showed an artist's flair - the Queen of the Night's sparkling gown and the umbrella-shaped butterflies were especially impressive - and Mark Jonathan's lighting bewitched the eye.  Richard Burkhard's Papageno kept the audience entertained in a way that never smacked of vulgarity.'

Opera

 

'...the singing of the leading protagonists was very strong. Nicky Spence was a believable Tamino, Laura Mitchell demonstrated a convincing fragility as Pamina whilst Claire Watkins, Rachel Hynes and Louise Collett were suitably gruesome as First, Second and Third Lady respectively. Richard Burkhard was brilliant as Papageno with Ruth Jenkins delightful in her all-too-short appearances as Papagena…The real star of the show though was the extraordinarily witty translation by Kit Hesketh-Harvey.’
Opera Now

 

 

'Stealing the show with aplomb is the fool Papageno, Richard Burkhard, who deftly gives a masterclass in the sort of tomfoolery that the word ‘pantomime’ was invented to describe. His romantic foil Papagena, Ruth Jenkins, is equally dazzling. One of the brightest lights, covered in a constellation of stars both physically and musically, was Queen of the Night Mari Moriya.’
***** Edinburgh Evening News

 

‘Scottish Opera has brought to the Grand Opera House a new production of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute which, for once, is truly full of magic. The show’s sets by Simon Higlett are visually stunning. Among a generally very competent cast, there are several performances of outstanding merit. Baritone Richard Burkhard’s Papgeno is a masterclass in comic stagecraft, and is sung immaculately. Soprano Laura Mitchell is the other stand-out soloist. This is a Magic Flute to cherish in the memory.’
**** The Belfast Telegraph