Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

An Exuberant Delight

The Magic Flute

Mid Wales Opera , Aberystwyth Arts Centre , March-08-17
The Magic Flute by Mid Wales Opera After the double production year of “Acis and Galatea” and “Carmen” in 2014 Mid Wales Opera has had an absence from the Aberystwyth stage. In 2016 the company has again created two productions. “Semele” is again a co-production with RWCMD. This month has been a rich month for Aberystwyth with Mozart following just days after the National Dance Company. Both Mid Wales Opera and NDCW are innovating. Smaller and more mobile productions in both dance and opera are heading for new smaller venues. The likes of Aberdaron and Cilgerran are in the companies' sights.

Meanwhile over its twenty-eight years Mid Wales Opera has been a regular reliable for flair and wit. “The Magic Flute” plays to the company's strengths. It is an exuberant delight. After long service Nicholas Cleobury is now to be sighted far away. Brisbane has much to gain. In Newtown the company has a new artistic team in conductor Jonathan Lyness and director Richard Studer. Richard Studer homes in on the essence of Mozart and Shikaneder's collaboration. He looks to its “debt to the art of pantomime, a surreal world of heroes and villains, myth and magic : high drama, high art, high notes and high camp mix in a blaze of colour, comedy and puppetry.” Studer is also his own designer and this “Magic Flute” comes in brilliant and stirring contrasts of colour.

Samantha Hay's Queen of the Night is in a sensuous dress of deepest black. Galina Averina's Pamina is in a long dress of pure white. A graduate of the Russian University of Theatre Arts Galina Averina gives her role allure and warmth. The three spirits, Katherine Williamson, Alys Mererid Roberts and Felicity Turner, are boys in knee-length white shorts. The backdrop is a pattern of hexagons, a design that projects both order and the requisite other-worldliness for the peripatetic adventures that unfold before it. Declan Randall's lighting gives it the blues of deep twilight. His lighting turns to the gold of sun for Sion Goronwy's magisterial stage presence as Sarastro.

“The Magic Flute” encompasses alarm in the confrontation between the Queen of the Night and Matt R J Ward's Monostatos. The contrasting light is in the comedy. Frederick Long brings a comic panache to Papageno. When informed he will never know the heavenly joy of the initiates his reply is a laconic “Don't worry about it.” In the trials of silence he throws a comic “psst!” across the stage to William Wallace's noble and purposeful Tamino.

“The Magic Flute” has a large company for this tour. Fifteen singers are on stage and ten musicians in the pit. The pleasures of the production are many. It is the best of starts for the new artistic team.

“The Magic Flute” continues to Pontardawe, Pontio and the Riverfront.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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