REVIEW: English Touring Opera shines in The Magic Flute and King Priam

King Priam by English Touring Opera. please credit Richard Hubert Smith.
King Priam by English Touring Opera. please credit Richard Hubert Smith.

Modern monsters and traditional tragedy were in the spotlight during two hugely different shows by English Touring Opera.

Modern monsters and traditional tragedy were in the spotlight during two hugely different shows by English Touring Opera.

This production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute was first brought to Sheffield’s Lyceum by ETO in 2009.

The production is notable in two respects - the monster in the first scene consisting of decadent, precisely choreographed couples in evening dress and something of a fixation with lampshades.

The lead sopranos were both impressive, Anna Patalong as Pamina and Samantha Hay as the Queen of the Night. Andrew Slater’s bass was just right as Sarastro.

The large audience enjoyed the familiar melodies leading to the happy ending and understood the comic Papageno, though some of the symbolism and attitudes to women seem strange in the 21st century.

The contrast with Saturday’s performance of Tippett’s King Priam could not be greater. This unremitting Greek tragedy conveys the multiple losses of war in a way that fits our age.

The music is very modern. The tragic stream of sound is incredible, containing so many themes and different forms.

The musical performance was excellent throughout, as were the staging and the costumes. The audience, much smaller than the previous evening, left appreciative and thoughtful.

We are fortunate that English Touring Opera visits our area. The map in the programme shows how little they do in the north. I trust we will continue to stay on that map. It would be great to have all three of their touring productions on future occasions.