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The Magic Flute - Riverside Studios

The Magic Flute

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE MERRY Opera Company is presenting The Magic Flute at Riverside Studios – from Tuesday, February 5 to Sunday, March 3, 2013.

Part-pantomime, part-opera, Kit Hesketh-Harvey’s new production re-lives The Magic Flute‘s sublime music and triumphant opening night in 1791.

Lofty divas and low comedians flourish. Watching closely are the shadowy forces of Freemasonry. And the composer, Mozart, fears he is being poisoned. The Magic Flute is described as a delight for opera connoisseurs and new comers alike.

As well as translating and adapting, Kit Hesketh-Harvey directs a cast that includes Fleur de Bray (Queen of the Night), Daisy Brown (Pamina), Dario Dugandzic (Papageno), Kristin Finnigan (Third Lady), Thomas Faulkner (Sarastro), James Harrison (Papageno), Elisabeth Marshall (Queen of the Night), Lawrence Olsworth-Peter (Tamino/Mozart), Joe Morgan (Tamino/Mozart), Gemma Morsley (Papagena), Matthew Quirk (Sarastro), Catarina Sareno (Pamina) and Glenn Tweedie (Monastatos).

Music director is Stephen Hose and musicians are Nicholas Allen (cello), Neil McTaggart (violin), Elise Bergersen and Mark Chivers (viola), Niall Webb (woodwind) and Stephen Hose (piano).

Kit Hesketh-Harvey is well known for being one half of cabaret duos Kit & The Widow and Kit and McConnell and as a regular panellist on Radio 4’s Just A Minute, but he has been writing, adapting and translating musicals and opera since 1988 when he won the Vivian Ellis Award.

His translation of The Bartered Bride for the Royal Opera House was Grammy nominated and his other work includes The Magic Flute and Die Fledermaus for Scottish Opera, The Turk in Italy and La Belle Héléne for ENO and The Merry Widow for Opera North.

Mozart’s The Magic Flute opened on September 30, 1791 and immediately played to packed houses. Sadly, Mozart was unable to fully enjoy its success as he died just over two months later on December 5, little knowing it was to become the fourth most performed opera worldwide.

Written against a background intending to make Freemasonry illegal, Mozart, a Mason himself, used the opera as his last chance to spread the word of Enlightenment to the rest of continental Europe.

The Merry Opera Company’s production is choreographed by Paul Chantry and Rae Piper, with set design by Sophia Simensky, costume design by Fiona Russell and lighting by Derek Carlyle. Assistant director is Preece Killick.

Tickets: £25, £22.50 concessions. Previews (February 5 and 6) £22.50, £20 concessions. Available from the box office on 020 8237 1111 or online at

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm; Sunday at 5pm plus Saturday matinee at 2.45pm.

In 2013, The magic Flute will also tour to St George’s Theatre, Great Yarmouth; Memorial Theatre, Broadstairs; Wetherspoon Opera House Pub, Tunbridge Wells; The Playhouse, Norwich; The Scoop, London (June 26 to June 28); Kenton Theatre, Henley; Lamberhurst Festival, Bayham Abbey Ruins, Kent; Rondo Theatre, Bath; Corn Exchange Theatre, Wallingford and Malaysia.