THE MAGIC FLUTE by Wolfgang Mozart, directed by Marshall Pynkoski, choreographed by Jeannette Zingg, conducted by David Fallis, with John Tessier, Meredith Hall, Daniel Belcher, Gary Relyea and Erin Windle. Presented by Opera Atelier at the Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge). November 2-3 at 8 pm, matinee November 4 at 3 pm. $25-$95, stu/srs discount. 416-872-5555. Rating: NNN
opera atelier's new production of The Magic Flute -- 10 years ago they scored a major success with Mozart's fairy-tale opera -- has several high notes but also a few off-key ones.The music is usually a joy, especially when sung (to a pretty clearly enunciated English text) by Gary Relyea, a sonorous and dignified Sarastro, the work's father figure, and Daniel Belcher, a crowd-pleaser as the birdcatcher Papageno, complete with avian movements. Others, including John Tessier and Meredith Hall as the central romance figures, are good but fail to infuse their roles with much personality.
The other pleasures -- no surprise in an Atelier production -- are Dora Rust-D'Eye's elegant costume design and Gerard Gauci's sets, which draw on period chinoiserie, Venetian gondolas, Masonic symbolism and Egyptian hieroglyphics. And the dragon in the opening scene is still the most splendid one around.
Flute brings together crazily disparate material -- including uncomfortable misogynist and racist themes -- and director Marshall Pynkoski succeeds in knitting together its musical elements. But the spoken sections, hit-and-miss as drama, are frequently over the top and often comically dull.
There's rarely any drive to the show when the music stops.