The Magic Flute: A Pleasure to Ears

Mozart's classical opera, brought to you by the English National Opera.

The Magic Flute: A Pleasure to Ears

The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is a timeless classic about the search for love and truth telling the story of Prince Tamino and his helper, the bird-catcher Papageno on their quest to save the daughter of The Queen of the Night, Pamina from the high priest Sarastro.

This past month, the English National Opera brought the contemporary rendition of this classical play by Simon McBurney back to London Coliseum for the third time since its premiere in 2013.

This play invites you into a magical fantasy world for 2 hours 45 minutes where a magic flute and bells bring lovers together. The music is mesmerising, the ENO orchestra and the actors were brilliant in bringing Mozart’s compositions to life. Rainelle Krause’s Queen of the Night ariagave me goosebumps. After being the Queen of the Night at various international opera houses with more to come, she IS the Queen of the Night. John Relyea who plays Sarastro is also one to stand out among all, he is one of the best bass-baritone opera singers who has performed in some of the most important opera houses around the world including Teatro alla Scala, Palais Garnier and more. His version of Sarastro’s second aria was a feast for the ears.

While Norman Reinhardt and Sarah Tynan were amazing as the main characters Tamino and Pamina, David Stout completely embodies the role of Papageno. He becomes more than a comedic relief but a total scene-stealer. I laughed so much throughout the show and routed for him to find his Papagena.

The best part of this production is the live sound effects, chalk drawings and animations, as well as the inclusion of the orchestra and the audience within the play. It was as much of a pleasure to watch Ruth Sullivan and Ben Thompson create the live visual and sound effects as watching the opera itself. The moving centre stage also added a great movement.

On a side note, I wasn’t very impressed with the costume choices. I’m guessing the wish to modernise the opera played a part in the choice but I found it a little confusing. I believe the costumes add to the fantasy feeling of The Magic Flute and are part of the magic. If you are familiar with the 2017 Royal Opera House edition and its extravagant costume choices, I’m sure you’d agree with me. Especially Pamina’s costume in Act 1, which was a tracksuit, made me feel like I was watching a rehearsal rather than the actual performance. The use of phones was also another confusing aspect of the play. The fantasy worlds in all forms of art tend to have a medieval feel to them no matter which era they are set in; not necessarily with the storylines and ideologies but with swords, gowns, world-building, etc. While many older operas and plays can use their ideologies and representation of women brought to today, costumes and props do not necessarily need change, especially ones like The Magic Flute which is set in a fantasy world.

Unfortunately, The Magic Flute has left London Coliseum and ENO’s 2023/24 season has ended but keep an eye on more productions being announced as opera tickets for under 21s are free and at discounted prices for 21–35-year-olds.

Header Image Credit: Manuel Harlan


Aysel Dilara Kasap

Aysel Dilara Kasap Voice Reviewers

I am a writer, the editor-in-chief of the non-profit creative writing website Feather Pen and a publishing hopeful. I am passionate about books while being a music and theatre enthusiast and generally enjoying all forms of art.

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