Every now and then we need a night at the theatre which just makes us smile. Dominic Cooke’s warm and witty production of The Magic Flute does just that. The combination of Mozart’s sublime music and Cooke’s surreal staging featuring an angry lobster, a newspaper reading lion and a fish that is also a bicycle adds up to an irrepressibly entertaining evening.
Production note: This Magritte inspired production is not set in any particular period. The sets and costumes reference different eras from the late 18th century through to the 19th century.
Tamino Benjamin Hulett
Pamina Elizabeth Watts
Papageno Daniel Grice
Sarastro Scott Wilde
Speaker Ashley Holland
Queen of the Night Kathryn Lewek
First Lady Camilla Roberts
Second Lady Máire Flavin
Third Lady Emma Carrington
All performances start at 7.15pm
Running time approximately 2 hours 50 minutes including one interval
Sung in English with surtitles in English (and Welsh in Cardiff and Llandudno)
Tamino, an Egyptian Prince, is entangled in the coils of a giant snake, and in his struggle, falls unconscious. Three magical ladies-in-waiting to the Queen of the Night appear and strike down the serpent. Together they admire the good looks of the unconscious Prince, before running off to tell the Queen of the Night what has happened. When Tamino awakes, he is greeted by Papageno, the Queen’s birdcatcher, who proudly boasts that he killed the evil serpent. The ladies soon return, and they catch Papageno falsely claiming the credit for Tamino’s rescue. As punishment for telling lies, they padlock his mouth shut. They give Tamino a portrait of the Queen’s daughter, Pamina, explaining that she has been imprisoned by Sarastro, who they describe as an evil High Priest. Seeing Pamina’s picture, Tamino immediately falls in love with her. The grief-stricken Queen of the Night appears in a burst of thunder, and tells the Prince that he can marry her daughter if she rescues him from Sarastro: a challenge that he accepts without hesitation. The ladies then present Tamino with a magic flute described as being able to change men’s hearts. They remove the padlock from Papageno’s mouth, and give him three magic bells that can offer magical protection. The ladies send the two men on their rescue mission, accompanied by three spirits.
Monostatos, the slave of High Priest Sarastro, pursues Pamina, but Papageno comes to the rescue, chasing him away. He tells the Princess that Tamino loves her, and is coming to rescue her. Pamina rejoices, and cannot wait to meet her rescuer – while she expresses her hope that one day Papageno will find love, too. The spirits tell Tamino that Pamina is safe, and he plays his flute to summon Papageno. Monostatos and his men chase after the fleeing Papageno and Pamina, but when the birdcatcher plays his magic bells, the angry mob are powerless. The High Priest Sarastro, who loves Pamina, punishes Monostatos for his advances towards the Princess. Pamina and Tamino finally meet for the first time, and they fall in love. Sarastro leads the young couple into his grand temple of Isis and Osiris.
Sarastro and his priests decide that Tamino will undergo a series of ordeals to prove his worthiness to marry Pamina, as well as to gain Sarastro’s throne and enter his brotherhood. Papageno is told that he will be given a woman of his own if he successfully undergoes the challenges, the first of which is a vow of silence when confronted by women. The ever-chatty birdcatcher finds this especially challenging and strikes up a conversation with an old lady passing by, but Tamino is even more thoroughly tested when greeted by his beloved Pamina. She leaves in despair, convinced that the silent Prince no longer loves her. Soon after, Monostatos can barely control his urges when he sees the sleeping Pamina, but he flees when the wrathful Queen of the Night appears, and commands her daughter to murder Sarastro.
Believing their prospects in love to be ruined, Tamino and Papageno are in low spirits, but the priests assure them that they only have two more trials to complete. Papageno longs for a wife and he vows to be faithful to the old lady he met earlier. She transforms into a beautiful youthful woman called Papagena, but she disappears immediately. Tamino and Pamina are reconciled, and undertake the final two ordeals of fire and water together, which they successfully complete under the protection of the magic flute. Meanwhile, Papageno is consumed with sorrow, believing that Papagena is lost to him forever. He is on the verge of suicide, but the three spirits return, and remind him that his magic bells will bring him true happiness. Sure enough, as soon as they resonate, Papagena appears, and the two start making their family plans. The Queen of the Night returns to attack the temple with her three ladies and Monostatos, but they are banished. Sarastro gives his blessing to Pamina and Tamino, and everyone joins in celebration of courage, virtue and wisdom.