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April 17, 2013

Review: The Magic Flute, Royal Opera House

By Spear's

Siurina’s German was not so good: in fact it was shocking. But did it matter? Not one bit, for she has the most beautiful voice I think I have ever heard

Last night I was utterly enchanted by one of the most stunning productions of the Magic Flute I have ever seen. I know this opera back to front, having sung three different roles within it, so I was expecting to be a little bored, but this was the production I had been longing for: sumptuous, beautifully lit, gloriously sung and superbly directed by David McVicar.

This revival is dedicated to Sir Colin Davis, who had conducted this production in 2011. Music director Sir Antonio Pappano gave a short speech before curtain up, a touching tribute explaining that Colin would have shunned such a gesture: ‘He didn’t like the limelight but he shed light.’


Enlightenment is certainly the key theme, particularly as the Masonic Lodge – the opera is heavily influenced by Masonic practice and mythology – is only two streets away. We are treated to some stunning Steampunk regalia from flying carriages with eagles wings, giant glowing orbs and fascinating astrological paraphernalia in giant libraries where students scribble theories on twenty-feet high walls.

The three ladies are the fifth element who execute dramatic gestures with superb timing and work wonderfully as a trio. Charles Castronovo’s Tamino was secure and forthright, if a little mature for someone so innocent seeking enlightenment, and Albina Shagimuratova’s Queen of the Night (pictured above) was elegantly executed with precise top notes and a menacing presence. She also knows how to do an extended diva bow at the curtain call.

Constant freshness

The couple who stole my hearts this evening were Christopher Maltman as Papageno and Ekaterina Siurina as Pamina (pictured below). Maltman I know has done this role hundreds of times but he still managed to bring such freshness, superb comic timing, great physicality and an endearing pathos not to mention elegant singing. I’m sure he slipped a couple of his own gags in; there was some hilarious slapstick and even his German has a regional accent, which was very impressive.

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Siurina’s German was not so good: in fact it was shocking. Certainly not up to ROH standards. But did it matter? Not one bit, for she has the most beautiful voice I think I have ever heard. Frankly she could sing in double Dutch, I wouldn’t care. Her timbre has roundness, poise and a lovely hint of metal that makes it a truly distinctive sound, and she is beautiful to watch too. Ekaterina Siurina is simply the most perfect Pamina.

The opera was taken at quite a lick by conductor Julia Jones and I thought it quite ironic given all the misogynist remarks in the text that the Magic Flute should be conducted by a woman.

If you want a magical experience then this is the opera for you, with all the right ingredients to make it a special night out: easy tunes, a wondrous set, superb singing and plenty of laughs.

Watch the trailer for The Magic Flute at the Royal Opera House below

The Magic Flute is on until 9 May 2013


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