The Queen of the Night (Caroline Wettergreen) explaining her distress to Tamino (David Portillo) (Image: Bill Cooper)
A director's first loyalty should be to the composer and original librettist. Some additions and updating may enhance the audience's experience, but directorial self indulgence ought to be resisted. So what should I make of Mozart's glorious Magic Flute being set in a late 19th century hotel in Vienna, with the Queen of the Night transformed into the owner of the hotel and the mystical Masonic leader Sarastro portrayed as the head chef?
It is, of course, complete nonsense that a hotel owner should enlist the help of a passing prince to free her daughter who has been kidnapped by a chef in protest against the owner's feminist beliefs. Why on earth didn't she just sack the chef and call the police?
On the other hand, Mozart's original opera is complete nonsense anyway, which may be why, despite my initial misgivings, I hugely enjoyed the sheer lunacy of this production by the French-Canadian director-designer duo André Barbe and Renaud Doucet.
With a good deal of puppetry, including the transformation of bedroom pillows into pecking birds on the entry of the birdcatcher Papageno, and the action moving rapidly