Delightful Swedish Magic Flute revival premieres in Stockholm

22/10/2019

SwedenSweden Mozart, Trollflöjten (The Magic Flute): Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Swedish Opera / Anna Skryleva (conductor), Royal Swedish Opera, Stockholm, 18.10.2019. (GF)

Jens Persson (Papageno) and bears © Carl Thorborg

Production:
Direction and Sets – Ole Anders Tandberg
Costumes – Maria Geber
Lighting design – Ellen Ruge
Choreographer – Anna Koch
Dramaturge – Katarina Aronsson

Cast:
Tamino – Joel Annmo
Pamina – Hanna Husáhr
The Queen of the Night – Tetiana Zhuravel
Sarastro – Kristian Flor
Papageno – Jens Persson
Papagena – Frida Johansson
Monostatos – Göran Eliasson
The Speaker – Jogan Edholm
First Lady – Marianne Odencrants
Second Lady – Sara Olsson
Third Lady – Kristina Martling
A Priest – Anders Blom
The Watchmen of Death – Jon Nilsson, Alar Pintsaar
Three Spirits – Vile Melin, Emma Horisk, Oskar Stenson

Trollflöjten, the header says, which means that this production is sung (and spoken) in Swedish. That was good news for the majority of the audience, but I can’t help but wonder what my English-speaking neighbour thought of it. The surtitles were also in Swedish. In both Helsinki and Tallinn – where I regularly attend performances, there are surtitles in the vernacular and in English; in Helsinki also in Swedish. Nonetheless I believe that even those who do not understand Swedish will find much to enjoy – musically above all – although Papageno’s merry pranks will probably be unintelligible, in spite of Jens Persson’s expressive body language. I had fairly clear memories of this production, which I first saw almost seven years ago to the day. I remembered the somewhat perplexing opening scene, during the overture, with a classroom where a group a students are taking a biology test and a shy late-comer – Pamina – appears and tip-toes to an empty desk. I also remembered a gentleman in the first row of the stalls who suddenly stood up and started to sing. It was Tamino. His cries for help resulted in three ladies from the opera house’s staff running in: one of them relieved him of the dangerous snake that had attacked him. I then remembered Papageno singing his bird-catcher aria with bird-whistles replacing his traditional pan flute. Things happen in Ole Anders Tandberg’s productions, and he is not always uncontroversial. Sarastro, for instance, and his Council of Priests, are a group of boy scouts and what looks like a tent for two turns out to hold more than a dozen boys. The brown bears who sing so beautifully and dance so elegantly are as cute as they can be. One of them also usurps Papageno’s glockenspiel and plays it with great insight. So the show is great fun and the only time there are objections is towards the end, when Papageno and his Papagena both undress to make love… although when Papagena starts taking off her bra the orchestra shout “NO!”.

A few of the singers from the original cast have survived, among them Johan Edholm’s Speaker. The greatest difference is the choice of Tamino. In 2012 it was the spinto voiced Daniel Johansson who since then has taken on roles such as Siegmund and Lohengrin. Joel Annmo is an extremely lyrical tenor who sings with exquisite nuances, very much like Claes-Håkan Ahnsjö who was my first Tamino in Stockholm in the early 1970s. But scenically he is a little pale by comparison. His Pamina is Hanna Husáhr, whom I praised lavishly for her Pat Nixon in Nixon in China three years ago. Besides singing possibly even better now, her sensitive stage presence makes her the ideal Pamina. Tetiana Zhuravel’s Queen of the Night seemed too weak and her lower notes failed to carry in the first act, but ‘Der Hölle Rache’ in the second act was formidable with secure coloratura and brilliant top notes. Her counterpart Sarastro, sung by Kristian Flor, did not have a truly dark lower register but was a warm and human scout-leader. Jens Persson’s Papageno stole the show every time he appeared on stage, and, as I mentioned above, his body language is utterly telling. The lecherous Monostatos is a dream role for Göran Eliasson, who played it with customary elegance. Frida Johansson was a cute Papagena, the three ladies acted convincingly and the three young spirits, dressed in white, were touching in their acting.

The Russian born Anna Skryleva, who made her debut at the Royal Opera and is to come back with The Nutcracker later this season, took over this season as General Music Director at Theater Magdeburg. She led the performance admirably. Overall it was a pleasure to renew the acquaintance with Ole Anders Tandberg’s Trollflöjten. And the dancing bears are delightful!

Göran Forsling

Comments

Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Carnegie Hall’s 2020-2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! London’s Wigmore Hall in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! Tamara Rojo’s new Raymonda and ENB in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! Transitions Dance Company’s 2020 UK Tour from 21 Feb – 6 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Aldeburgh Festival from 12 – 28 June 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers 2020 from 29 April to 16 May in Leicester __________________________________
  • NEW! Beethoven 250 at London’s Barbican __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and more in Buenos Aires during 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Beethoven 250 at London’s Southbank Centre __________________________________
  • Saffron Hall in February – August 2020 __________________________________
  • Bampton Classical Opera in 2020 – Gluck’s Paris and Helen __________________________________
  • Surrey’s Grange Park Opera in 2020 __________________________________
  • The Leeds Lieder Concert Series 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Edinburgh Usher Hall 2019-2020 Orchestral Season __________________________________
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • Ex Cathedra’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! YAN PASCAL TORTELIER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH SARDINIAN TENOR PIERO PRETTI __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH UKRAINIAN SOPRANO LIUDMYLA MONASTYRSKA __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH CHINESE SOPRANO HUI HE __________________________________
  • NEW AND UPDATED! BEST OF 2019 FROM SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR TOM HAMMOND IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR HERVÉ NIQUET INTERVIEWED ABOUT GRÉTRY’S RICHARD, COEUR DE LION __________________________________
  • PIANIST JAMES LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ANGELA GHEORGHIU IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NOW REVIEWED! MATTHEW BOURNE’S ROMEO AND JULIET IN CINEMAS FROM 22 OCTOBER __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month