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Die Zauberflote review at Royal Opera House London

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Lee Blakeley’s revival of David McVicar’s 2003 production of Mozart’s popular comedy works well here, with fluent routines and some crisp dramatic performances. One or two of the vocal performances, however, disappoint.

German tenor Will Hartmann lacks the lyricism necessary for Tamino, and his voice sounds worn in places. The veteran German bass Jan-Hendrik Rootering sings Sarastro, though his lower register – crucial for this role – is weak these days and his voice generally less than it was. Finnish soprano Anna-Kristiina Kaappola proves an accurate but small-scale Queen of the Night, with no real menace.

Some of the other principals, however, are prime. You woud have to go a long, long way to find a Papageno as expert and lovable as Simon Keenlyside: his performance is a classic of our time. Welsh soprano Rebecca Evans sings an impeccable Pamina, with not a note out of place.

Also fitting perfectly into the bigger picture are Gail Pearson’s down-to-earth Papagena, and an excellent group of Three Boys (John Hewitt-Jones, David Stark and Zico Shaker). John Graham-Hall gives good value as Monostatos and Kyle Ketelsen’s Speaker is likeable without quite being authoritative in this important secondary role.

But the achievement of conductor Charles Mackerras in the pit is a cause for celebration, as is his 80th birthday later this year. He first conducted at this address back in 1955, and delivers yet another marvellous performance here.

Production Information

Royal Opera House, London, February 14, 16, 21, 23, 26, 28, March 3, 4

David McVicar, Lee Blakeley
Royal Opera
Cast includes
Will Hartmann, Rebecca Evans, Simon Keenlyside, Anna-Kristiina Kaappola, Jan-Hendrik Rootering
Running time
3hrs 40mins

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