If you go down to the woods today, you might find a pure-hearted prince and his feathered sidekick en route to rescue a damsel in distress, a queen atop her starry throne; mysterious temples, dancing bears and a levitating picnic. If in danger, just follow the sound of the flute.
In today’s technology-soaked world, it’s rare that anything off-screen entrances a child for more than a few minutes.
But look around at a performance of Julie Taymor’s production of The Magic Flute, and you’ll see children captivated.
Utterly still, utterly silent (this is, when they’re not chortling with laughter or gasping with surprise).
That’s because The Magic Flute is like nothing they’ve ever seen before. The stage is alive with colour and movement, the music is enchanting, the movement is magical.
From Monostatos’ grotesque nose to the Queen of the Night’s shimmering wings, everyone and everything that appears on stage is larger than life.
As in a Pixar film, this production brilliantly balances visual stimulation with amusing dialogue in a charming English translation. The result is a pantomime of brilliant colour, set to Mozart’s timeless music.
Perhaps all you need to fire a child’s imagination is a little old-fashioned theatrical magic.
Princes and magic and bears, oh my!
Watch the trailer for The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute: A Listening Guide
|Conductor||Rory Macdonald (until
|Original direction by||Julie Taymor|
|Set Designer||George Tsypin|
|Costume Designer||Julie Taymor|
& Michael Curry
|Lighting Designer||Gary Marder|
|Original lighting design||Donald Holder|
|Original choreography||Mark Dendy|
|Translation by||JD McClatchy|
|Queen of the Night||Hannah Dahlenburg|
|First Lady||Jane Ede|
|Second Lady||Sian Pendry|
|Third Lady||Anna Yun|
|First Priest||Malcolm Ede|
|Second Priest||Jonathan McCauley|
|First Armoured Man||Dean Bassett|
|Second Armoured Man||Clifford Plumpton|
Kiri Jenssen*Jack Kleem†
* December 30; January 7, 9, 12, 16
† January 2, 7 (matinee), 9 (matinee), 14
The Magic Flute is suitable for children aged 8 and over, as well as for adults.
Running time: approximately 2 hours & 5 minutes, including one 20-minute interval.
Performed in English with surtitles.
A handsome prince sets out on an adventure to rescue a damsel in distress. He takes along a cowardly but goodnatured birdcatcher, Papageno, who is more interested in finding a wife than seeking adventure.
Along the way, the Prince Tamino meets a Queen who is not as nice as she seems, and a villian by the name of Monostatos, who is just as bad as he seems.
Tamino, Papageno and the princess Pamina must all trust in the power of music to lead them through the dark and dangerous adventures ahead…
A mythical land between the sun and the moon.
Three ladies in the service of the Queen of the Night save the fainting Prince Tamino from a serpent. When they leave to tell the queen, the bird catcher Papageno bounces in and boasts to Tamino that it was he who killed the creature. The ladies return to give Tamino a portrait of the queen’s daughter, Pamina, who they say is enslaved by the evil Sarastro, and they padlock Papageno’s mouth for lying. Tamino falls in love with Pamina’s face in the portrait. The queen, appearing in a burst of thunder, is grieving over the loss of her daughter; she charges Tamino with Pamina’s rescue. The ladies give a magic flute to Tamino and silver bells to Papageno to ensure their safety, appointing three spirits to guide them.
Sarastro’s slave Monostatos pursues Pamina but is frightened away by the feather-covered Papageno, who tells Pamina that Tamino loves her and intends to save her. Led by the three spirits to the temple of Sarastro, Tamino is advised by a high priest that it is the queen, not Sarastro, who is evil. Hearing that Pamina is safe, Tamino charms the animals with his flute, then rushes to follow the sound of Papageno’s pipes. Monostatos and his cohorts chase Papageno and Pamina but are left helpless by Papageno’s magic bells. Sarastro, entering in great ceremony, promises Pamina eventual freedom and punishes Monostatos. Pamina is enchanted by a glimpse of Tamino, who is led into the temple with Papageno.
Sarastro tells his priests that Tamino will undergo initiation rites. Monostatos tries to kiss the sleeping Pamina. He is discovered by the Queen of the Night, who dismisses him. She gives her daughter a dagger with which to murder Sarastro.
The desperate Pamina is confronted and consoled by Sarastro. Tamino and Papageno are told by a priest that they must remain silent and refrain from eating, a vow that Papageno immediately breaks when he takes a glass of water from a flirtatious old lady. The old lady vanishes when he asks her name. The three spirits appear to guide Tamino through the rest of his journey and to tell Papageno to be quiet. Tamino remains silent even when Pamina appears, which breaks her heart since she cannot understand his reticence.
The priests inform Tamino that he has only two more trials to complete his initiation. Papageno longs for a cuddly wife but eventually settles for the old lady. When he promises to be faithful she turns into a young Papagena but soon disappears.
After many dangers, Pamina and Tamino are reunited and face the ordeals of water and fire protected by the magic flute.
Papageno is saved from attempted suicide by the spirits, who remind him that if he uses his magic bells he will find true happiness. When he does, Papagena appears and the two plan for the future and move into a bird’s nest. The Queen of the Night, her three ladies, and Monostatos attack the temple but are defeated and banished. Sarastro joins Pamina and Tamino as the people hail Isis, Osiris, and the triumph of courage, virtue, and wisdom.
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera; originally published in the Met Playbill.