18 May 2014

Captivating version of The Magic Flute at Normansfield Theatre

I like the Normansfield Theatre in Teddington. The building is pretty, going there supports the Down's Syndrome Association, every show that I have been to there has been very good and I can walk there in around half an hour.

I was also looking forward to seeing The Magic Flute, amazingly that was a first! I had seen a concert performance at the Proms many years ago and another opera based on the writing of this one last year, and I had even read a graphic novel adaptation by P Craig Russell, but I had never seen this opera performed as an opera before.

It was a dry day and so I walked there and found a park in Teddington that I did not know about before. That's why walking is the best way to explore.

I got there just about in time for a drink but this was a Sunday matinee service and so was unlicensed. I gave the tea a miss.

The theatre was pretty full when I got there but as most people had timidly avoided the front-row I decided to sit there.  As is the tradition with the theatre these days, some of the cast came on stage before the performance started and so my usual picture of the stage-from-my-seat also captured a monk.

The music was recorded and the conductor sat to the right of the stage waiving to the singers and pressing buttons.

There was a large cast with a good range of voices all but one of which I could follow easily, obviously there were no surtitles here.

Despite my good previous experiences at the Normansfield I was pleasantly surprised by both the singing and the acting.

I was not expecting the show to be amateurish (in any sense of the word) but this was not Glyndebourne and I had reduced my expectations accordingly. That was a mistake as it was an excellent production that told the story very well and did the music justice with some fine singing.

Papageno led the way, as he should. He may be the light relief to the hero Tamino but it is songs that most people know. The light relief is also an important part of the opera and this production made me laugh in all the right places.

The other role that caught my eye was the baddie Monostatos who just oozed malevolence. There is also a worthy mention for the three ladies who, in a period production, wore fetching black outfits, one complete with guns in leg holsters.

The Magic Flute enthralled me throughout. This was an excellent production that showed how opera can be dramatic, comic and, above all, lyrical.

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