cape town opera | artscape theatre | 2017
" ★★★★★ The result is plausible, contemporary and witty, replete with dazzling spectacle and an oneiric quality that transcends time and place ... a triumph." CAPE ARGUS
"Matthew Wild's production (was) suitably magical and filled with the many unexpected and imaginative touches that have become his trademark." OPERA MAGAZINE
"First stroke of genius: Turning Mozart’s Magic Flute into a bong-fuelled dream by a befuddled UCT music student.
Second stroke of brilliance: Linking the concerns of the South African #FeesMustFall movement to a German opera written nearly 230 years ago. Third count: Having faith in a set of young SACM opera trainees and graduates to pull off one of the world’s most well-known and beloved works. When director Matthew Wild was first putting together this production for the South African College of Music (SACM) in 2015/16, the #FeesMustFall spirit was sweeping through South African universities, bringing with it questions around ownership of knowledge, the interrogation of curriculums, and widespread discussion and debate. One of the consequences of that period was that the planned 2016 SACM production of The Magic Flute had to be cancelled.Fast forward a year – and Wild has used this experience, and the learnings that came out of it, to present a Magic Flute that is contemporary, relevant, questioning and challenging. It’s extremely clever and, as far as I could feel, devoid of either a patronising or pandering motivation. The production opens with a young flute student, Tamino, pondering whether he should practice his instrument, study his set work (The Magic Flute) or have a smoke. Several puffs of the holy weed later, and Tamino is holding a ganja-infused argument with himself about the merits (or lack thereof) of Mozart and why Star Wars hasn’t been made into an opera (yet). This internal debate, stunningly presented via Kirsti Cumming’s video designs, sets the bar for a Magic Flute that is suffused with pop references, socio-political jokes and funky set and costume designs. As Tamino the student falls into a dope-induced sleep, so the opera unfolds. And, taken the weak plot and misogynist tone (blame the librettist), stoned is probably the most sensible way to approach the narrative ... This Magic Flute flips the bird at dead white composers, questions the relevance of studying Wolfgang Amadeus in the first place, and recognises the racism and sexism in the production and tries to do something about it. The use of contemporary visual references in video, costume and set design, is eye-catching, amusing and relevant. It’s Harry Potter, Star Wars, Marvel Comics and Mozart – and it’s fabulous." WEEKEND SPECIAL
"A feast for the senses, showing off the very best of South African opera, musicianship and stagecraft ... Symbolism, old and new, informs each scene, making for a self-aware production that goes far to examine the misogynistic and racist threads that render the opera problematic. The power of music remains a strong theme in both the narrative and the production as a whole ... CTO's production of The Magic Flute is a forward-thinking, inventive display of creative South African talent." WHATSONINCAPETOWN