Los Angeles : The Magic Flute in silent film style

English, On Stage

Los Angeles Music Center,,November 23, 2013. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791): The Magic Flute, opera in two acts; libretto
by Emmanuel Shikaneder. Stage direction: Suzanne Andrade, Barrie Kosky. Animation: Paul Barritt. Sets and costumes: Esther Bialas.
Cast: Janai Brugger, Pamina; Lawrence Brownlee, Tamino; Erika Miklósa, Queen of the Night; Evan Boyer, Sarastro;
Rodion Pogossov, Papageno; Amanda Woodbury, Papagena: Rodell Rosel, Monostatos; Hae Ji Chang, Cassandra Zoé Velasco,
Peabody Southwell, the Three Ladies; Drew Pickett, Charles Connon, Jamal Jaffer, the Three Boys. Los Angeles Opera Chorus, directed by Grant Gershon. Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, James Conlon, conductor.

Magic Flute_Orchestra Tech 1 _November 18, 2013This Flute, which first we watch, with ever-widening eyes, for we proceed from good to excellent surprises, then we hear…is especially noteworthy, as you may have guessed, because of the unique, often staggering reinterpretation by the Berlin theatre troupe, “1927,” () and , the Australian director, in the throes of euphoria. An audacious reinterpretation, embellished by the breathtaking animation of Paul Barritt. Of course, Mozart suffers a bit…but so what? Let’s not pout over our pleasure! We’re at a party…or rather, we’re at the movies, the movies of the ‘20’s. On stage, an immense screen reproduces images–often crazy, odd, and stylized– of the silent era. The characters move around in front of this screen, sometimes go through it, take it over, and become part of it. Dialogue is not delivered orally but written, like in the intertitles of a Murnau or a W.D. Griffith. But sly winks and references are not limited to that… Pamina, in costumes and hairstyle, evokes Louise Brooks. Papageno (pork-pie hat fixed on his head and dull yellow checkered costume) brings back Buster Keaton;  Monostatos,– Nosferatu. The Queen of the Night, a man-eater, is nothing but an enormous spider with gigantic legs. All of this is conceived with humor, originality, mastery. We laugh; we wait impatiently for the next gag or the next gimmick. We forget about Mozart! The scenes which might bother us or have nothing to do with the project are boldly eliminated; every Masonic ritual or pseudo-ritual is cut out, with no digression.

Magic Flute_Orchestra Tech 2 _November 19, 2013A solid set, nothing extraneous. ’s Pamina delights in her interpretation. Her delicate, refined timbre moves us. In white-face, another reference to the silent film, , insecure and unstable at first, (in a 3,000 seat theatre, ouch!) quickly gained control of himself. The Papageno-Papagena couple (Pogossov/Woodbury), well-cast and perfect, with spontaneous and expressive gestures, won over the audience, as did the Queen of the Night of (her singing still carefully controlled), the valiant and incisive Sorastro of , and the Monostatos of Rodell Rosel.  Our Three Ladies also suggest, by their thrift-store clothes, hats, and gestures, those third-rate actresses of the ‘20’s. Only the orchestra and , idiomatic and lyric, without forgetting the excellent chorus of Grant Gershon, seemed interested in Mozart. Three miles from Hollywood, before people who have their Busby Berkeley or King Vidor at their finger-tips (but do not necessarily have a handle on their Mozart), this production will be a smash hit and garner standing ovations.

Crédit photographique : © Robert Millard

Translated by Miriam Ellis


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