‘The Magic Flute' - spectacular triumph

2008-10-02 08:05

NONE of the pictures I have seen of William Kentridge's production of Mozart's The Magic Flute have come close to showing the sheer spectacle of what is presented on stage. Visually, this Magic Flute is staggering.

There is an enormous amount to look at: animated film sequences projected on to screens and gauzes, extraordinary lighting effects and Masonic symbolism to decipher. And, of course, there are the performers, the action and the English surtitles. There is no sense that this is something only to be listened to, a static operatic experience where the music is paramount. The projections, always changing, always fascinating, are probably the reason why still photographs seem so dull in comparison.

The production, although not with the current South African cast (bar one notable exception in Kaiser Nkosi's Sarastro), premiered in Brussels in 2005, but Kentridge said all along that it must come to this country. Rand Merchant Bank put up the sponsorship - which must have been massive - and set in train the two seasons, each of three weeks, in Cape Town and Johannesburg. It has been a complete sell-out. Two months before the curtain went up in Cape Town at the beginning of September, 90% of all available tickets for both cities had been sold and the remaining 10% followed quickly.

There has been some criticism of the production during the run, coming from two sides. One faction complains that the staging is so overwhelming that it downplays Mozart. The other view is that, without the visual excitement, musically, this Magic Flute is a bit less than magical.

As regards the first, I totally disagree. Kentridge's vision of the opera is coherent, intelligent and - above all - playful. The dancing rhinoceros, when Tamino's flute tames the wild beasts, has a wacky, almost Pythonesque charm - part of the enchantment of the whole concept. The production runs for around three hours, which can seem a very long time in a theatre. But there was never a sense that things were dragging, or that the audience was beginning to shuffle. As a total experience, The Magic Flute is a triumph.

The singers acquit themselves well, if not always brilliantly. I was sorry not to see KwaZulu-Natal favourite Angela Gilbert, a Music Revival regular, sing the Queen of the Night, but she is sharing the role with Marion Roberts who was on stage for the performance I attended. The staging for her great aria, with whirling stars coming out of the darkness, is one of the highlights. Musa Nkuna and Angela Kerrison are an appealing Tamino and Pamina, and if Theo Magongoma's voice is a little small for the huge spaces of the Civic Theatre, his talent as a comic actor carries him through as Papageno. For me, the star is Nkosi, whose Sarastro dominates the stage whenever he appears. South Africa has some fine operatic talent on show here.

Ten hours in the car to get to Johannesburg and back was a price worth paying to see this one.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.