Less is more on Mozart’s path to enlightenment.
A Magic Flute
Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Peter Brook
Octagon Theatre, Perth Festival
Peter Brook’s “freely adapted” A Magic Fluteis so judiciously stripped back to story and character basics that it reminds me of that trick sometimes seen in old cartoons and slapstick movies: a waiter swiftly pulls a tablecloth out from under an extravagant banquet setting; not one item budges an inch. But the legendary director uses only the crisp, white linen, leaving the decadent feast untouched.
Gone is all the clutter and excess of Mozart’s Masonic symbolism, so often overstated and clichéd elsewhere. He’s really trimmed the fat, reducing the original Singspielto just 90 minutes and banishing the three ladies who do the Queen of the Night’s bidding along with the three wise boys who guide Tamino on his quest, all deemed peripheral on the path to true enlightenment.
Only seven singers and two compelling actors from the Parisian Théâtre des Bouffes du Nords remain, as does the heart and immediacy of the story. Finally, a Magic Flutethat I can relate to on an emotional level, without superfluous distraction.
Hélène Patarot’s costumes are modest – the...