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Mozart – The Magic Flute


Opera A La Carte

St Cyprian's Church, London NW1 16 June 2006


Tamino – Paul Badley

Papageno – Jochem Van Ast

First Lady / Spirit – Angela Kazimierczuk

Second Lady / Spirit – Siobhain Gibson

Third Lady / Spirit – Frances Jellard

Queen of the Night – Rosalind Waters

Pamina – Michele Sheridan

Monostatos – Nicholas Heath

Assistants – Colin Campbell & Kevin Ferguson

Sarastro – Martin Robson

Papagena – Emma Silversides


Musical direction / piano – Susie Allan

Director / translator – Nicholas Heath



The concept of setting this opera in a hospital in colonial India was an original one, and one that Nicholas Heath's direction (and translation) made to work convincingly right through the evening.


The story opened with Tamino being admitted to the ward in delirium from a snakebite. The three ladies were of course his nurses, and the formidable matron the “queen of the night”. Sarastro dispensed wisdom as a senior consultant, and Monostatos and his two assistants, at lower levels in the medical hierarchy, absorbed Schikaneder's somewhat confusing assembly of speaker, priests, armed men etc. Papageno and the three “boys” introduced an appropriate element of magic, coming from the association of singing birds with singing spirits in Indian culture.


These spirits provided encouragement and give Tamino and Pamina the strength to endure their final ordeals by fire and water as they were required to drink a glass of barium and face a probing x-ray.


St Cyprian's Church is not an ideal venue for opera with its huge roof space, solid stone/wood surfaces and more than a hint of an echo, which “wrong footed” singers once or twice in the ensembles. Susie Allan gave clear and sensitive direction from the piano and also led the small wind ensemble. Appropriately the notes of the flute continually floating to the top provided the semblance of bird song in our ears.


I was impressed with the generally high standard of singing: Rosalind Waters delivered the Queen of the Night's fearsome coloratura with spine chilling accuracy, Jochem Van Ast was a cheerful Papageno and well matched by his Papagana (Emma Silversides). Paul Badley acquitted himself honourably in the demanding role of Tamino, and Michele Sheridan made a suitably vulnerable Pamina. Good diction and fine acting from Martin Robson (Sarastro) and his medical team guided us through the intricacies of the story.


The Missing Person flyers that had been handed out as tickets set the tone for the entertainment and ingenuity of the evening in an opera that was always meant to be fun!



Serena Fenwick


© Peter Grahame Woolf