Close this search box.

the magic flute @ joan sutherland auditorium

Production photography by Bruno Gaica
Production photography by Bruno Gaica

This was a charming revival of the production that was first created for the Metropolitan Opera, New York, in 2005, and first seen here in 2012. This work, as well as being a parable grounded in Mozart’s links and fascination with Freemasonry and the struggles of his own time, has a simple truth for everyone, and has resonances for both children and adults.

Strange bearded albino spirit children guide the path to truth. With its animals and priests, myriad symbols and pyramids, colours and movement, this is a musical and visual extravaganza.

Opera Australia uses the somewhat abridged version and the work is sung in English, though there is still the use of surtitles, a little distracting at first though one gets used to it.

Under the dynamic baton of Rory Macdonald, the orchestra played with consistent tempi and with delicate yet tight, vivid playing, matching the wonderful stage picture.

The lighting was quite dramatic and the huge sphere within a revolving set dominates. There is also a semi circular walkway into the audience around the usual orchestra pit.

A major visual aspect of this production was the wonderful use of puppetry. Giant bears joyously danced or loomed threateningly, birds hovered over the audience, a huge dragon attacked Tamino. The use of Koken as in Japanese Kabuki also was extremely effective for the Queen of the Night with her striking, massive geometric costumes which were, at times, like sails.

Matthew Barcaly’s snappy choreography was also very enjoyable. A highlightwas the scene in which  Sorastro turns his followers on Monostatos, only for Papageno’s magic bells to alter the situation, turning the scene into a hilarious, rather camp dance party.

There was also a wonderful scene when, in Act 2,  Pappageno and the oversized birds (swans and flamingos) showcased some great pointe work.

Most of the cast will be have been recognizable to audience members who have seen previous revivals.

As Prince Tamino, with wonderful Kabuli like makeup, John Longmuir’s performance was regally impressive throughout, and featured  a penetrating, unforced voice. His aria to the portrait of Pamina in Act 1 was a great start.

As Princess Pamina, Taryn Fiebig was fabulous, delicately blending rounded colour with delicious, melting, pure sound. Strong in her resolve and love she was very moving in her heart broken aria directed to the mute Tamino who had vowed an oath of silence at that point.

Samuel Dundas’ Papageno, in green,  with his pan pipes to entice the birds, was quite disarming and engaging. A chatterbox who speaks before he thinks he was also delightfully nimble and open. His despairing planning suicide aria in Act 2 was very moving in contrast with the duet with Papagena (Katherine Wiles) towards the end, which was bubbling and joyous.

Daniel Sumegi’s Sarastro was imposing with a firm, commanding presence.

The showstopper was always going to be the Queen of the Night’s Second Act Aria, featuring a high F and plenty of extreme coloratura fireworks.

Hannah Dahlenburg was chilling and thrilling as Queen Of The Night, at times in Act 1 in white and for the Act 2 showstopper scene wearing fiery red.

Her three ladies- Jane Ede, Sian Pendry and Anna Yun– with their unusual oval masks indicating moods ranging from somewhat mocking to disapproval to astonishment.

Benjamin Rasheed as horrid, ugly Monostatos, a commedia delle árte villain in black and gold like a bee, relished in stealing the show whenever he could. Yet he portrayed a deep loneliness within.

The three spirits represent knowledge and far-seeing innocence- Kiri Jenssen, Paolo Lieghio and Oliver Rice-  sang in tight, pure harmony.

This was an excellent revival of this classic Opera.

Running time 2 hours 10 minutes including one interval

Opera Australia’s revival of THE MAGIC FLUTE played the Joan Sutherland Auditorium Sydney Opera House between the 30th December, 2015 and the 16th January, 2016.


Subscribe to our Bi-Weekly Newstetter

Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to receive updates and stay informed about art and cultural events around Sydney. – it’s free!

Want More?

Get exclusive access to free giveaways and double passes to cinema and theatre events across Sydney. 

Scroll to Top