Theatre Review: A Magic Flute at the Barbican

Director Peter Brook strips opera down to its bare bones in A MAGIC FLUTE at the Barbican, a 90 minute interpretation of Mozart’s opera.

PETER Brook’s interpretation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute strips the opera down to its bare bones - retaining the classic arias and duets but cutting the production from almost three hours to a mere 90 minutes.

Musically we rely on a single piano to interpret Mozart’s rich score and although it’s beautifully played by Franck Krawczyk there are moments when the production would benefit from the depth and colour offered by an orchestra.

Even the singing seemed a bit reigned in, as though deliberately performed in hushed tones. It was perfectly enjoyable but it did feel a little like watching a rehearsal.

Two casts from the company C.I.C.T/ Th��tre des Bouffles du Nord alternate between performances. This gives valuable stage-time to an array of young, mostly French talent but on the night of our review some fared better than others. Worthy of a special mention is 18-year-old Jeanne Zaepffe making her professional debut as Pamina, the kidnapped daughter of the Queen of the Night.

Adrian Strooper failed to impress as her would-be rescuer Tamino, but Thomas Doli� excelled in his portrayal of Papageno. Not only did he sing extremely well but he displayed a wonderful sense of comic timing. He’s certainly someone to look out for in the future.

Adaptations of original masterpieces will always divide opinion and doubtless this will do the same. As Brook himself concedes with his slight re-titling of Mozart’s classic: this is certainly A Magic Flute, but it’s not The Magic Flute.

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* Showing at the Barbican in Silk Street, EC2, until Sunday, March 27.