The Magic Flute

Wales Millennium Centre

Until March 17

It is difficult to make sense of some of the choices taken in this odd interpretation of Mozart and Schidneker’s The Magic Flute.

From daft costuming that lacks coherence, to unconvincing set design that confuses more than illuminates the fantasy world of night and day, director Daisy Evans has chosen to bring this 18th century opera to the 21st with in an unconvincing manner.

The overall result is one of distraction more than engagement.

The set, lighting and costumes appear to call back to a nostalgic video game aesthetic, with an emphasis on blocky platforms and zig-zagged lines reminiscent of vector graphics.

Neon strip lighting and fluorescent globes are redolent of the ‘80s pioneer of CGI, Tron. This alone could have had a been an interesting visual concept. Yet it is married to bizarre costuming that is more Flash Gordon than the stated inspiration of Hunger Games into the mix, and distracting choreography that replaces the titular flute and accompanying magic bells with a lightsaber and plastic glowing mallets.

Video game sensibilities have also been brought into the narrative, which casts Tamino as an intrepid quest-goer, whose princess is to be found in another castle (Super Mario does come to mind).

Clearly, Evans is uncomfortable with some of The Magic Flute’s ideas that are less palatable to the modern audience. However, extensive revisions to the opera’s thematic content turn any interesting exploration of logic versus experience into mush.

It appears that the post-modern tendency to equate so-called lived experience with one’s own personal version Truth render any attempt to turn this piece create a modern parable redundant.

This is a shame, as the overall result distracts from some of the admirable performances on display (Trystan Llŷr Griffiths stands out as Tamino), and sweeps the patiently conducted orchestra to the sidelines.