Barry Kosky and his multi-award-winning opera company, the Berlin-based Komische Oper will make a triumphant return to the 2019 Adelaide Festival with its most popular and joyous masterwork, Mozart’s The Magic Flute.
Co-directed by Kosky in conjunction with Suzanne Andrade from acclaimed British performance company 1927, following its Berlin premiere in 2012, The Magic Flute has won Opera World Awards, accumulated rapturous reviews and played to over half a million people in 22 cities across Europe, America and Asia.
Together with Paul Barritt, they have created a thrilling imaginative world which fuses the virtuosity of live opera performance with grand-scale animated tableaux. Their production evokes the enchantment of Buster Keaton’s silent movies, the dark underbelly of Tim Burton and the whimsy and humour of early 20th Century animated cartoons – think Felix the Cat and Betty Boop.
The Magic Flute has played to sell out audiences since 1791 when it was first staged just 8 weeks before Mozart’s death. On one level the work is a fairy tale of a damsel in distress and the handsome prince who rescues her, however beneath the surface the story explores the layers of human experience, the quest for enlightenment and the search for knowledge, justice, wisdom and truth.
“Mozart wrote The Magic Flute as an entertainment and that is where this Kosky/Andrade production succeeds so spectacularly,” said Joint Artistic Director Rachel Healy. “Back in 2016, I saw their Magic Flute in the middle of a full-to-bursting theatre with every audience member wearing mile-wide grins, and I knew that we had to find a way of presenting it at the Adelaide Festival. The production captures the spirited warmth of the original with a masterful application of 21st century technology.”
“The rise in popularity of graphic novels and anime coincides with the world-wide success of Komische Oper’s The Magic Flute,” said Joint Artistic Director Neil Armfield. “We are delighted to program a work that appeals so immediately to young audiences and opera first-timers, while also attracting seasoned opera lovers who know that the production values and musicianship of Berlin’s Komische Oper is of the highest possible standard.”
The centrepiece of the Adelaide Festival’s 2017 season was Barrie Kosky’s production of Saul, produced by Glyndebourne Festival Opera. It was the first time an Australian arts organisation had presented a major operatic work directed by Kosky since he left Australia in 2001.
It marked a return to Adelaide for Kosky who was Artistic Director of the 1996 Adelaide Festival and still cites Adelaide Festival as his “favourite Australian festival”. Tickets for Saul sold out within weeks of going on sale with more than 40% of tickets sold to interstate visitors.
“I saw the work of Suzanne Andrade and Paul Barritt of 1927 and thought it was such a wonderful combination of animation and silent films and 2D and 3D performance – I’d never seen anything like it… Our production is one where you can take kids and grandma,” said Kosky.
“In Berlin it’s almost like a cult production, with people coming six or seven times to see it. I thought Berlin audiences reacted very positively to it until I went to Los Angeles, where they were absolutely screaming with laughter: we sometimes had to stop the film.”
“And it’s also a godsend for seasoned opera audiences who are sick to death of The Magic Flute and bowled over that they can go and see a production where they’re surprised at every aria,” added Kosky.
Multi-award winning performance company 1927 was founded in 2005 by animator & illustrator Paul Barritt, and writer & performer Suzanne Andrade. Their past works have toured the world and their third show, Golem, was recognised as one of the highlights of the 2016 Adelaide Festival.
The Magic Flute will be presented by the Adelaide Festival in association with the State Opera of South Australia, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Adelaide Festival Centre by arrangement with Arts Projects Australia in the Festival Theatre: 1 – 3 March 2019.
Priority tickets are now on sale for the Friends of the Adelaide Festival. General public tickets go on sale at 9.00am – Wednesday 22 August 2018. For more information, visit: www.adelaidefestival.com.au for details. The 2019 Adelaide Festival runs 1 – 17 March.
Image: Komische Oper Berlin presents The Magic Flute – photo by © Iko Freese / drama-berlin.de