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Mozart’s Opera Magic To Descend Upon Auckland

22 June 2006

Mozart’s Opera Magic To Descend Upon Auckland

Tamino (Adrian Strooper) charms an array of colourful animals – and opera audiences - with his magic flute, in The NZI Winter Season of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, presented by The NBR New Zealand Opera in association with Los Angeles Opera. The season comes to Auckland’s Aotea Centre from 6-15 July 2006 following sell-out Wellington performances.


Magic is about to descend upon Auckland. Following a sell-out Wellington season this week, The NBR New Zealand Opera’s latest production - The NZI Winter Season of Mozart’s The Magic Flute – looks set to cast its spell over Auckland audiences when it comes to the Aotea Centre on Thursday 6th July for five performances.

This vibrant and enchanting production, presented in association with Los Angeles Opera, features dazzling and colourful designs by internationally acclaimed cartoonist, Gerald Scarfe, and an outstanding opera cast led by LA Opera director, Stanley M. Garner and English conductor, Alistair Dawes.

Regarded as Mozart’s most quirky and irresistible opera, The Magic Flute continues to delight both seasoned and first-time opera audiences, including children, thanks to a fantastical, multi-layered tale told through charming characters and familiar, accessible music.

At its simplest, The Magic Flute is a fairy-story about a prince (Tamino) who embarks on a quest in which he must overcome trials and obstacles, to win a princess (Pamina). On a deeper level, it is about the inner search for truth and love. During his journey Tamino encounters some mysterious characters: Pamina’s grand but menacing mother; a lonely bird-catcher; and a forbidding ruler. With terrifying ordeals to be conquered, Tamino’s magic flute may help him, but it is his own strengths that are the key.

Originally devised by one of Britain’s theatre giants, Sir Peter Hall, for Los Angeles Opera, this production sees the return to New Zealand of American director Stanley M. Garner. Garner has already successfully directed and staged this production for major opera houses from Seattle to Washington DC, making his own strong impact on it to critical acclaim. The New Zealand performances will be sung in German with English dialogue and surtitles.

"This delightful opera is about a quest," explains Garner. "It’s a journey that the characters embark upon to find out what makes them happy. There are perils along the way, but they overcome them, and they find inside themselves what is important and triumph in the end.” A wonderful aspect about this production is the curious blending of fantasy with a story that is both a morality lesson and high entertainment dressed in a fairytale and told through Mozart’s glorious music. Its appeal makes it easily accessible to audiences of all ages who can’t help but get swept up in the journey and the magic that’s unfolding on stage."

The gorgeous princess Pamina (Tiffany Speight) and the comic, feathered bird-catcher Papageno (Richard Burkhard) cast their magic over opera audiences in The NZI Winter Season of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, presented by The NBR New Zealand Opera in association with Los Angeles Opera. The season comes to Auckland’s Aotea Centre from 6-15 July 2006 following sell-out Wellington performances.


British cartoonist, Gerald Scarfe, the production’s designer, has master-minded a world where fantasy takes flight on the wings of Mozart’s musical brilliance, creating playful but sophisticated designs that are clever, stylish and eye-catching.

Scarfe’s most renowned iconic images include credits for television’s Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, Pink Floyd’s The Wall; Disney’s animated feature Hercules and numerous sketches of politicians, royalty and showbusiness personalities. Venturing into opera with The Magic Flute, Scarfe has conjured up a wonderland with a mystical faux Egypt, including a towering pyramid and a colourful ark of fantastical beasts.

“The most fun of all to design were the animals that Tamino enchants out of the forest with his magic flute,” explains Scarfe. “Rather than an obvious lineup I made these half one animal and half another; a Crocoguin – half crocodile, half penguin; a Tigoon – half tiger, half baboon; a Giraffestritch and Zebkey.

New and colourful breeds all “genetically engineered” for this world where flutes have magical powers!” Bringing Mozart’s tuneful and beautiful music into this confection is a strong cast of overseas and New Zealand singers under the baton of English conductor Alistair Dawes. Hero prince Tamino is portrayed by Australian tenor Adrian Strooper, who is a regular performer in the Opernstudio of Cologne Opera, Germany.

As Pamina is the exciting young Australian soprano Tiffany Speight – also a trained dancer whose talents make her a star of musicals as well as opera. English baritone Richard Burkhard sings the popular everyman role of Papageno. As the priestly Sarastro, is British bass Graeme Broadbent, a frequent performer in Europe’s festivals and a member of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

The Queen of the Night – a powerful figure whose two dramatic arias scale the heights of a soprano’s range - is Englishwoman Penelope Randall-Davis. She has been Queen of the Night for Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera, English Touring Opera and Oper der Stadt Koblenz. New Zealanders in the cast include Rodney Macann as the Speaker; and three up and coming opera performers, Kate Spence, Morag Atchison and Aivale Cole as the Three Ladies.

Two former PricewaterhouseCoopers Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artists perform key roles: Carla Parry sings Papagena and Phillip Rhodes sings Monostatos – a character whose surprisingly coloured appearance has won a lot of attention during earlier stagings of this production. The NZI Winter Season of Mozart’s The Magic Flute opens at the Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland on Thursday 6 July, with further performances on Saturday 8, Thursday 13 and Saturday 15 July at 7.30pm; and a Matinee on Tuesday 11 July at 1.00pm.


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