Review: The Magic Flute

Waterperry Opera Festival

If you fancy a Glyndebourne-esque night out without the need to drive down to East Sussex, look no further than Waterperry Gardens where the Waterperry Opera Festival’s second season is currently underway. An altogether more relaxed affair, this festival is delightfully unstuffy and it’s a joy to see such an ambitious project, with its youthful cast and directors, succeeding so spectacularly.

Nicholas- Papageno-and-John Porter Tamino with the three ladies at Waterperry. pic by Greg-Goodale.jpg

Laura Attridge’s The Magic Flute, which opened last night, is a typically bold, innovative and unfussy production, which makes good use of the natural features of the amphitheatre and bubbles with joie de vivre. An eager young cast romp their way merrily through this timeless piece, breathing fresh life into the familiar arias and ensembles so that you almost feel you are hearing it all for the first time. 

The cast are uniformly strong, both vocally and dramatically – no weak links here – and all show a keen appreciation of both the humour of the piece and the more serious, moving elements of the opera. 

Isabelle Peters, as Pamina, impresses with her gloriously rich soprano voice and the dramatic intensity of her arias. Nicholas Morton excels as Papageno, his natural comedic skills effortlessly capturing the humour of the role, while John Porter gives an appealing and well-sung Tamino. The three ladies – Roisin Walsh, Beth Moxon and Rozanna Madylus – are deliciously feisty, and Eleanor Penfold has the operatic clout and vocal gymnastics required for the Queen of the Night.

Eleanor Penfold as Queen of the Night at Waterperry by Greg Goodale

A special mention, too, for the talented youngsters playing the three children. Maria-Teresa Maddison, Molly Howard and Sacha Willans are all local singers with experience in various Oxford choirs and theatre companies, and it shows – they sing beautifully, and act with composure and maturity.

The orchestra plays solidly throughout, with conductor Bertie Baigent ensuring a lively, crisp rendition of Mozart’s sublime score.

This is a slick, polished and accessible production, which will appeal to Mozart lovers and newcomers alike. 

The Waterperry Opera Festival continues until tonight (July 28) with further performances of The Magic Flute, along with The Fairy Queen, Mansfield Park, Peter Rabbit’s Musical Adventure and more.


Nicola Lisle

Freelance journalist