The Magic Flute
Los Angeles Review by Willard Manus

With its devilishly clever mix of live performance with animation, L.A. Opera’s new production of Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE was a ground-breaking visual delight, a cartoon that both young and old could enjoy.


photo: Craig T. Mathew

First mounted at Komische Opera Berlin by director Barrie Kosky (who also helmed the L.A. version), the production was mostly conceived by “1927", a British media company headed by Suzanne Andrade and Paul Barritt, two lovers of revue, vaudeville, music hall, silent film and other similar forms of theatre. It was they who not only animated THE MAGIC FLUTE but made the decision to dress the characters up like early movie stars. Which is why Papageno (Jonathan Michie) resembled Buster Keaton, Monostatos (Brenton Ryan), Nosferatu, and Pamina (Marita Solberg), Louise Brooks. What a hoot to see those silent-film icons singing one aria after another in German.

They did it while mostly standing in one place while the animated world of THE MAGIC FLUTE swirled all around them, filling the stage of the Chandler Pavilion with its visual wizardry. Fairy creatures, trailing streams of musical notes, represented Tamino’s magic flute; pink elephants in giant cocktail glasses helped quench Papageno’s thirst; little red bells suddenly morphed into showgirls. And when there were scene changes, inter-titles (with piano accompaniment) substituted for bridging dialogue, thereby simplifying and speeding up the story.

photo: Craig T. Mathew

When you factor in Mozart’s glorious music being sung by a team of golden-voiced young singers (led by So Young Park as The Queen of the Night), the result was a triumph for the company, a new, fresh, off-beat MAGIC FLUTE that delighted from start to finish.
L.A. Opera recently announced its 2016/17 season. Among its highlights are a new production of Verdi’s MacBeth, the company premiere of Philip Glass’ Akhnaten, and a semi-staged production of Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town, part of a three-year tribute to the late American composer.

(Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave. For tickets and information, call 213-972-8001 or visit