Silent film features in The Magic Flute at Perth Festival

The Magic Flute.
The Magic Flute.

MOZART’S comic opera The Magic Flute may be the most performed of the German operas but the current production at His Majesty’s Theatre is unlike any version seen before.

Presented by Perth Festival with WA Opera and WASO, it is staged by Australian director Barrie Kosky.

He has been the artistic director of Komische Oper Berlin since 2012 and he is the creative mind behind the British theatre group 1927, Suzanne Andrade and Paul Barritt.

The production has captivated half a million people in 22 cities around the world already and this week is Perth’s chance to experience this magical world described as “non-stop action and visual delight”, as it blends film animation with live singing.

The Magic Flute.

The animation by London-based Barritt is the star of the show as performers play with an interactive backdrop of video projection, featuring hand-drawn cartoons of everything from Dumbo-eqsue flying elephants splashing around in cocktail glasses to owls wearing high heels, a flurry of butterflies, monkey guards and a feisty feline friend.

Honouring the aesthetics of the silent film, The Magic Flute also takes inspiration from Weimar cabaret with a splash of comic book craziness and epic escapism in the opera about searching for love.

The Magic Flute.

Continuing the 1920’s theme sees characters like Papageno with the qualities of Buster Keaton.

The character of Pamina evokes the style of flapper girl Louise Brooks, while Monostatos is a throw back to vampire horror Nosferatu.

A simple spotlight on a performer sometimes proved as powerful as a stage full of action.

Those with arachnophobia probably will not delight with the Queen of the Night taking on the form of a gigantic spider.

However, her performance of the famous aria Der Holle Rache in the second act is certainly worth facing the fear.

The Magic Flute.

On leaving the theatre, an audience member declared, “this was the way The Magic Flute was meant to be performed”.

I could not agree more.

Sung in German with English surtitles, The Magic Flute is on at His Majesty’s Theatre until February 23.

Four and a half stars