On Saturday 19th November we all went with Hei Mun to Jackson's Lane Theatre for a matinee of The Magic Flute by Hampstead Garden Opera, which we all enjoyed.
It was a small-scale - though not that small-scale, with orchestra and chorus - production by Hampstead Garden Opera, who we hadn't seen before. It was sung in English, and had a modern/nowhere staging, which was fine for what is a plot full of strands, all of them preposterous. I particularly liked the trio groups - especially the Queen of the Night's ladies (Rebekah Smith, Caroline Daggett and Stephanie Wake-Edwards - whose performances I enjoyed, as well as their singing), and the boys, because I like my harmonies, and, from what I've seen, opera is surprisingly full of lots of good singers standing on a stage listening to each other sing one at a time instead of singing together. The man playing Papageno - Jolyon Loy - was quite good as a humorous actor (playing him along the lines of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory). The Queen of the Night did well, though in the famous aria with the top notes I found it hard to enjoy it because I was wondering how she'd get on with the top notes, even after she'd done it the first time; Bethan thought this was preposterous.
The orchestra was on a visible platform at first-floor level at the back of the stage (I've sometimes seen that done in musicals, though usually hidden behind set).
An unusual thing, which I don't think I've ever seen before, is that because of illness one part (the second armed man) was performed by one person (the assistant director) and sung by another (someone who was already playing another part which he couldn't double up). It worked fine.
I guess these days the three boys are usually played by women dressed as boys (if not by actual boys); here it was two women dressed as boys and one man dressed as a girl (which I took in a 'well, if the women have to dress as boys, let's make the man dress as a girl', and why not).
I don't think I've ever seen any of them before, but that's not a surprise. I enjoyed the opera more than I expected, as my memory of the only previous time I'd seen it - a student production, I think at the College of Education, in Aberdeen - was dim but unremarkable. I felt it dragging a bit in the second half, but that could just have been me rather than the production or the music being less good than the first half. It was being filmed, although I wasn't aware of there being many cameras or of them moving. It all seemed to be unmiked, which was good.
Cast: James Butler, Emily Bradley, Clare Treacey, Jolyon Loy, Rebekah Smith, Caroline Daggett, Stephanie Wake-Edwards, Margaret Ravalde, Anselm Carr-Jones, Rebecca Leggett, Ben Rowarth, Michael Lafferty, Lars Fischer, Peter Zaborszky, Matthew Thistleton, Robert Davis, Caroline Kennedy, Kasia Andrezejewska, Eleanor Dann, Azura Farid, Kathleen Greene, Victoria Hodges, Simone Ibbett-Brown.