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The Magic Flute: the directors

Stage director JIM PETTS:

IT IS A TRUTH universally acknowledged that nobody really knows what to do with The Magic Flute. It is one of the most popular and regularly performed operas and yet causes innumerable problems. In operatic terms it is quite an oddity, an early singspiel that verges on becoming an operetta or even a musical with its easy listening musical numbers and spoken dialogue. Its solemn Masonic overtones and misogynistic plot contrasted with almost pantomime comedy make it quite difficult to produce in this modern woke age without causing offence.

Modern productions have swung from serious scenarios set in dusty Enlightenment libraries, to outer space, or as at Glyndebourne this year, in a posh hotel, with Sarastro as head chef. No matter: we have decided to go for broke and just enjoy the comedy and pantomime aspects.

So here we are in some strange seaside resort where the tensions between the Lady of the Manor and her coterie of do-gooding ladies are set against the upstart Sarastro and his jolly holiday camp. Into this minefield steps our young friend Terry Tamino in search of a seaside summer break. Instead he finds love, enlightenment and the companionship of a demented zoo-keeper. It’s a strange world out there…

Music director JUSTIN BINDLEY:

FIRST PERFORMED IN 1791, the Magic Flute has continued to delight audiences thoughout the centuries. Full of wit, charm and comedy, the music sparkles with a never ending stream of beautiful melodies. Providing so many opportunities for soloists, I thought it was the ideal opera to celebrate our 25th anniversary. The orchestra has been especially arranged for us by Callum Morton Hüseyin and this will be its first performance.

Kennet Opera is fortunate to have so many young, talented and promising soloists, and this year is no exception – I am so pleased we were able to cast the roles with such quality, helping the singers to develop and more importantly giving the opportunity for the audience to be able to enjoy their singing.

When I planned this a year ago , I had no idea that most of the main UK opera companies have been presenting Magic Flute this season so I feel we are in very good company!