An excitingly different version of Mozart's classic opera
Reviewed at the Festival Centre on 2 March 2019
Presented by The Adelaide Festival in association with State Opera of South Australia; Adelaide Symphony Orchestra; and Adelaide Festival Centre by arrangement with Arts Projects Australia. Komische Oper Berlin/ Barrie Kosky/1927
The concept for this production was developed by Barry Kosky and 1927 (Suzanne Andrade and Paul Barritt). The multi-media presentation is incredibly encapsulating: a definite experience. Above all, the opera by Mozart with a libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder is truly wonderful. The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jordan de Souza make the most of every melody and the singers from Komische Oper Berlin are stunning. The similarity to any other production of this delightful opera ends there.
This is a dream production with imaginative animations provided by Paul Barritt who, with Kosky’s co-director Suzanne Andrade, forms part of British Performance Company 1927. Showing signs of the Weimar culture and the silent film era the world they create is populated by monsters, dragons, pink elephants in cocktail glasses, weird steam-punk type creatures and a cute black cat. Strangely they all seem at home in Mozart’s fairytale where the flute is represented by an animated fairy.
The costumes by Esther Bialas, Diago Lenz’s lighting plot and the influence of dramaturgy by Ulrich Lenz all support and enhance the 20’s feel. Even the dialogue which is projected and not spoken is reminiscent of the silent movies.
The Queen of the Night is represented as a giant spider alien from one of those movies with the power to control. Aleksandra Olczyk makes her difficult arias sound easy. Aaron Blake (Tamino) and Kim-Lillian Strebel (Pamina) are a sweet couple, they more than do justice to the beautiful music. Tom Erik Lie plays Papageno for comedy and all three react well with the animations making them seem almost real (especially the black cat).
The three ladies who torment Tamino and Papageno, Mirka Wagner, Maria Fiselier, and Nadine Weissmann, characterise as well as they sing. Andreas Bauer Kanabas is austere and commanding as Sarastro and the trio of boys from Tolzer Knabenchor gave some stunning harmonies, as did the Komische Oper Berlin Chorus. Queen of the Night, Tamino, Pamina, Papageno, Sarasto, the three ladies and the boys all popped in and out on the vertical set allowing the animation to flow around them, making them part of a moving picture.
This is opera as you have never seen it before, a melding of the production techniques to make something really special, see it if you can.
Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Venue: Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: 1 -3 Mar
Duration: 2hr 40 min
Tickets: $65 -$289