This production certainly had a different look. “The Magic Flute,” as performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) April 9-14, 2007, was aflutter with projected imagery that gave an overall lightness to the staging in this import of De Munt/La Monnaie, Royal Opera House of Belgium in its American premiere. As directed by William Kentridge, Mozart’s opera was embellished, indeed, sometimes enveloped, with projections of leaves and even birds flying out of hatched eggs.
There was also a maze of moving geometric patterns projected, creating the effect of an audience being part of a vast classroom and observing a blackboard. The costumes resembled turn of the century attire, and the whole enterprise was marked by a look far from other productions of this delightful opera.
So where does that leave the singing?
In quite good hands. To be sure, sometimes all of the effects tended to obscure the rest by diverting audience attention to the oddities, considering how fresh and unusual they were. But “The Magic Flute” has undergone its share of tampering, and the voices are what carry the day—or don’t.
In this case Sophie Karthäuser was delightful as Pamina, Jeremy Ovenden made an effective Tamino, Stephan Loges was appealing as Papageno and Céline Scheen did well as Papagena. The rest of the cast was also strong, adding up to a pleasing experience that enabled us to appreciate the wit of the production design while sitting back and enjoying Mozart. The presentation was in German with English subtitles.
It is always worth noting that BAM itself is to be appreciated for bringing us such a variety of programming. Reviewed at the Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Street, Brooklyn. Phone: 718-636-4100.