The Magic Flute


The Magic Flute

Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House

Welcome to Mozart’s imagination run wild, in a playground on the path to enlightenment, brought to life with spellbinding costumes and effects from Julie Taymor, director of Broadway sensation Disney’s The Lion King.

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. No, it’s not Disney – this is opera.

For The Magic Flute, Mozart truly embraced his inner child, and in Julie Taymor’s anything-is-possible production she reaches out to everyone’s inner child.

A nine-metre serpent, towering polar bears and hundreds of props painstakingly hand-crafted bring a kaleidoscope of colour and whimsy to favourites like the stratospheric Queen of the Night’s Arias and Papageno’s cheery pipe song.

The props department at Opera Australia is responsible for the manufacture of much of what you see on stage.

While the production was first designed for New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the production you see here has been created a new, from the ground up, in Opera Australia’s set construction, props and wardrobe workshops.

“There are small intimate hand puppets operated by the dancers very close around the performers, such as the silkcovered wire-framed birds, all of them beautifully hand painted,” explains Mat Lawrence, head of props for the original build.

“Then there’s the giant goose. It flies at about 4 metres off the ground. We use aluminium, carbon fibre and silk to make it as light as possible.”

Co-ordinating the construction was as full of challenges as Tamino’s quest to save Pamina: the set, costumes and props teams puzzled over how to make the nine-metre serpent’s turning circle as tight as possible, how to avoid injury to the dancers, and even how to fit the giant puppets in the wings when they were not in use.

Above all, the Opera Australia build needed to be true to Julie Taymor’s unique aesthetic, a look which extends to every part of the show from costumes to props to hair and even make-up.

“It’s a wonderful piece of theatre,” says resident director Matthew Barclay, “and it’s also a work of art in every dimension – costumes, puppetry, choreography, lighting and scenic design – they together create a magical storytelling world worthy of  Mozart’s extraordinary musical imagination”.


Children aged 8 and above are encouraged to come to The Magic Flute. A special price of $49 is available for children aged 16 and under at selected matinee performances. 

Conductor Anthony Legge
Director Matthew Barclay
Originally directed by Julie Taymor
Set Designer George Tsypin
Costume Designer Julie Taymor
Puppetry Designers Julie Taymor and Michael Curry
Lighting Designer Gary Marder
Original lighting design Donald Holder
Choreographer Matthew Barclay
Original choreography Mark Dendy
Translation by JD McClatchy
Pamina Taryn Fiebig
Jane Ede

John Longmuir
Jonathan Abernethy

Papageno Andrew Jones
Samuel Dundas
Luke Gabbedy
Queen of the Night Milica Ilic
Hannah Dahlenburg
Sarastro Morris Robinson
Richard Anderson
1st Lady Jane Ede
Leah Thomas
2nd Lady Sian Pendry
Victoria Lambourn
3rd Lady Dominica Matthews
Papagena Katherine Wiles
Monostatos Kanen Breen
Speaker Richard Anderson
Adrian Tamburini

Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra

Opera Australia Chorus

The Magic Flute is suitable for children aged 8+. 

Performed by arrangment with The Metropolitan Opera, publisher and sole copyright holder.

Running time: two hours and ten minutes, including one twenty minute interval

This production of The Magic Flute is an enchanting experience for the whole family. We have created our Guide to The Magic Flute to introduce the story and colourful characters before you see the show, so parents and children know who and what to expect. You'll feel like you're meeting old friends as they appear on stage!

This is a world where animals dance and children fly, where princes battle dragons and hope battles despair. Julie Taymor, director of Disney’s The Lion King, has taken Mozart’s fairy tale and turned it into a show that, in the spirit of the original, speaks to the child in all of us. 


Part 1: Who's Who in The Magic Flute: A Character Guide (pdf)

Monsters and magical flutes, princes and priests, bears and buffoons: A one-stop guide to help you tell friend from foe in the colourful world of The Magic Flute

Part 2: The Magic Flute: A bedtime story (pdf)

The tale of a magic flute, a handsome prince and his feathered friend who set out on an adventure to find and rescue a princess.

Part 3 - coming soon. 


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