With an opening scene of a lobster-like creature bursting through the set’s doors, I knew from the start of Welsh National Opera’s rendition of Mozart’s The Magic Flute that I was in for a very different experience of opera.
As quite the novice to opera, I went into this performance blind, so was intrigued to have my first ever experience of both an opera in translated to the English language and one which balanced between singing and spoken dialogue.
I struggled to settle into the tone of the performance for the first half of the First Act, but soon found my stride before the interval. Any moment of sincere romance or despair was quickly turned into comedy, whether it be intentional or not. However, placed in the modern age the concept of a woman loving a stranger simply because he loves her could only be perceived as comedic.
It was a production which brought many smiles to my face, with standout scenes including the enchantment of the wild animals and Papageno and Papagena’s growing flock – both scenes in which small details in costumes and props had the biggest effect. I also couldn’t help getting goosebumps from Samantha Hay’s brilliant rendition of the famous Queen of the Night’s aria.
The set was simple, if not a little economical at times, though from the tone and dialogue it was clear WNO weren’t afraid to laugh at themselves for the few cringe-worthy decisions made by them.
For those like me who haven’t dabbled in much in opera, I’d certainly recommend The Magic Flute as a good crossover piece from theatre. This was also clearly demonstrated in the refreshingly diverse demographic of the audience for the production at Venue Cymru.
Main image Samantha Hay
Venue Cymru until April 27 and touring