Belfast Telegraph

The Magic Flute review: Mozart's opera is a magical success

By Terry Blain

A giant snake, a man who dresses like a bird, and ritualistic acolytes behaving oddly - The Magic Flute may well be Mozart's most popular opera musically, but it's also the trickiest to stage with any degree of consistent believability. In this respect NI Opera's new staging is signally successful.

Director Oliver Mears, as always a clear, incisive storyteller, homed in on the compelling personal situations of the central characters, blending in the potentially jarring elements of pantomime and comedy with a deft, Shakespearean fluidity of perspective.

He was handsomely supported by a young cast of singers, many of them Irish. Leading the charge was Newry baritone Ben McAteer, a wonderfully affable, endearing Papageno, making his professional operatic debut.

He's a natural actor, and much more will be heard of him in the future. Belfast soprano Aoife Miskelly gave a winningly expressive performance as Pamina, opposite the ardently lyrical Tamino of Anthony Gregory.

Among the supporting cast the contributions of the Three Ladies – Sinéad O'Kelly, Sarah Richmond and Laura Murphy – were outstanding in their sassiness and vocal quality. Overall this was a funny, touching and pellucid Magic Flute, another resounding success for a company which has yet to put a foot wrong in its quest to take opera in Northern Ireland to previously uncharted territory.

Four stars

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