Words by and Music by W.A.Mozart
Nuffield Theatre,
June 2002
Director: Angela Mackie
Cast List
First Lady
Second Lady
Third Lady
The Queen of Night
The Orator
Man in Armour
Man in Armour

Notes on this performance

97. The Magic Flute       

A magical flautist…

Not everyone on the Committee wanted to keep to the Five Year Plan and perform The Magic Flute; Colin Sly protested that ‘there is little work for the women and the chorus and we could have trouble casting the principals.’ It was admitted that he did have a point but it was thought that a concert could also be arranged for the summer to make up for the lack of action on the stage, so Mozart’s opera remained in place.

Ann Turner, who had worked with the Junior Section for four shows, agreed to be the MD and Angela Mackie took up the challenge of directing the production. She opted to have the performers in modern dress, though the faction representing ‘good’ did seem to be wearing costumes more suitable for ‘the dark side’, which could have been confusing for anyone unfamiliar with the story line.

The Echo review was also confusing, once the reporter had outlined the story and shown appreciation for ‘Mozart’s beautiful music’ she summed up the production with: ‘Possibly first night nerves detracted from Act 1. Act II was much stronger all round.’ Not a single performer was mentioned by name, though the MD and a member of the orchestra did come in for some praise, ‘Highlights included, under the direction of Ann Turner, the excellent performance of the flautist in particular and the orchestra as a whole and the comedic love duet between Papageno and Papagena.’ It should be mentioned that Paul Webb and Helen Cameron sang the duet.

In her NODA critique, Margaret Fields also singled out Paul Webb, ‘Papageno was the star of the evening. He sang with such confidence and acted with such charm and spirit. He added a well needed touch of lightness to the opera.’ However, she also credited Jo Short as Pamina for, ‘singing well and being delightful in her role.’ The chorus may have had little to do but they obviously did it well, ‘The chorus singing was excellent and they moved with great confidence. and there were some very slick exits and entrances. The ensemble singing was also of a very high standard.’

However, she did endorse Colin’s initial fears when she wrote, ‘but there were a few problems with the principals. ‘Monostatos (Richard Peaty) did not have an operatic voice, although his dialogue and characterisation were very convincing, and Sarastro (Frank Zaragoza) had a wonderful singing voice but a strong accent made it hard to understand him. Tamino (Ralph Bateman) did not look comfortable in the part and the Queen of the Night (Janet Green), with her extremely good voice, found some of the coloratura notes too difficult, although she was generally impressive in the role.

This was not a perfect production, but interesting and by and large enjoyable. Taken overall it was well worth the effort put in by the cast, and a good opportunity to extend the society’s repertoire.’

Similar to other ‘serious’ operas, The Magic Flute was not a success at the box office and the ‘excellent orchestra’ was fairly expensive, leading to a loss of £1316.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Jo and PT

Jo Short (Pamina) with Suzie Culf, Louise Crouch, Becky Orford, Rosalind Zaragoza (Slaves) and Richard Peaty (Monostatus) - Mark Pontin and Peter Culf feature directly behind Suzie

Photo of PT and Frank

Richard Peaty (Monostatus) held by Ronnie Madams and Mike Pavitt (Men in Armour) with Frank Zaragoza (Sarastro) and Ralph Bateman (Tamino) - kneeling

Photo of Paul

Paul Webb (Papageno) 

Photo of Ralph

Ralph Bateman (Tamino) with Alexandra Dunn (First Lady) and Carol Johnson (Third Lady) 

Photo of PT and Jo

Richard Peaty (Monostatus) and Jo Short (Pamina)

Photo of Frank

Centre - Frank Zaragoza (Sarastro) with chorus members Jonathan Fulcher, Les Pike, Mark Pontin, Adam Case and Martin Paterson with the Slaves and Men in Armour