Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Warming to ENO's Magic Flute

Despite English National Opera being under financial pressure from Arts Council England, forcing ENO's management to propose injurious cuts to its full-time chorus and orchestra, the company is continuing to demonstrate its vitality and quality on stage. 

Mark Berry is more enthusiastic about ENO's Magic Flute revival than he was when the current production was first staged in 2013 (but see my review here). He writes:

Stephen Jeffreys's translation is exemplary; if one is going to perform the work in English, a witty yet serious approach such as this is unquestionably the way to go. It enables one to approach the heart of the work rather than shouting 'look at me!'

For me, however, the strongest reasons to enthuse were musical. Mark Wigglesworth led an excellent account of the score. No, of course it was not Colin Davis; but we do not need to hear unconvincing imitation of past glories. Wigglesworth’s tempi tended to be swifter, although not unreasonably so; crucially, there was no sense of harrying the score, of preventing it from breathing... Moreover, the ENO Orchestra and Chorus, fighting back again where it matters most strongly, were on excellent form throughout.

Berry was also enthusiastic about the main singers and noted that:

All of the smaller roles were taken well, showing once again how crucial a sense of company is to performance; if only ENO’s management would watch and listen.

For Mark Berry's full review at Opera Today, go here.

Photo: Peter Coleman-Wright as Papageno     © ENO /Robbie Jack

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