Opera Review: The Magic Flute

Opera House, Tel Aviv, May 16

Magic Flute 311 (photo credit: Yossi Zveker)
Magic Flute 311
(photo credit: Yossi Zveker)
There was nothing magical about Mozart’s The Magic Flute, performed by the Israeli Opera.
Totally violating Mozart’s concept of an enchanting fairy-tale opera, Jean-Louis Grinda and Rudy Sabounghi’s pretentious, sophisticated direction and set, obsessed with modernity, created an irritating experience.
Too many superfluous minor actors and dancers incessantly floated around with the sole purpose of diverting attention from an important aria or ensemble singing. The snake threatening Tamino was substituted by an array of menacing females.
Papageno’s naive wishful dreaming of a little wife was absurdly concretized by a parade of fashion models. And, most repelling of all, Sarastro’s sacred domain and the area of the lovers’ trial were represented by a contraption reminiscent of a Fukushima atomic reactor more than a Mozart-like charming fantasy.
Among the singers, Hila Fahima’s Papagena the Second was the most outstanding.
Her bright, genuinely love-inspired soprano made one understand Papageno’s infatuation with her. Hila Baggio, on the other hand, misused her usually lovely soprano by a too assertive, hard rendition of Pamina’s gentle, soft, friendly character.
As Queen of the Night, soprano Ekaterina Lekhina’s Coloraturas were competent but too theatrical for being convincingly frightening. In the role of Sarastro, Oren Gardus lacked the dark, majestic bass required for this role.
The clumsy and artificial, deliberate humor of tenor Guy Mannheim, as Papageno, was a far cry from the easygoing nonchalance of this role’s Viennese performers.
Conductor David Stern, leading the Rishon Lezion Symphonoy Orchestra , seemed preoccupied with the orchestra itself more than with its function regarding the singers.