The Magic Flute could be more enchanting

The mostly Canadian cast delivers some sweet notes, but this production features odd inconsistencies


THE MAGIC FLUTE by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Canadian Opera Company). At the Four Seasons Centre (145 Queen West). Runs to February 24. $35-$350. See listing. Rating: NNN


Mozart’s The Magic Flute is an easy crowd-pleaser. Its mysterious fairy tale story and stream of melodies never fail to strike a chord. But it’s hard to evoke true stage magic, and alas, this 2011 production, originally directed by Diane Paulus (and directed here in the revival by Ashlie Corcoran) could be more enchanting.

For one thing, Paulus’s idea of presenting the piece as an opera-within-an opera begins well but soon collapses in illogic. And there are odd inconsistencies in the staging, including a final celebratory scene that defies understanding. Why are the villains there?

But maybe we shouldn’t look for sense in an opera that includes three-headed serpents, trials by fire and water (nicely evoked by Myung Hee Cho’s sets and costumes) and an irksome misogynist plot that draws from the rites and rituals of Freemasonry.

Better to focus on the music, performed here by a mostly Canadian cast with energy and pluck.

Andrew Haji makes a sweet-voiced, ardent Tamino Joshua Hopkins delivers the best performance of the night as the randy bird-catcher Papageno Goran Juric uses his mellifluous, reso­nant bass to great effect as Sarastro Michael Colvin grasps the spirit of baddy Monastatos Elena Tsallagova’s Pamina is characterful, resourceful and strong, clearly her mother’s daughter and about that mom – Ambur Braid makes the Queen of the Night both terrifying and sympathetic, her vocal fireworks all based in character.

Conductor Bernard Labadie delivers a solid reading of the score, and the chorus, under Sandra Horst, adds glorious texture and weight, especially in those spine-tingling moments involving Sarastro’s Temple.

Maybe next time there’ll be more magic.

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