Sydney’s magical moment: The Magic Flute opens tonight at the Opera House

opera australia the magic flute cory weaver for metropolitan opera 2009
The Magic Flute. Image by Cory Weaver

The new year is beginning with a flourish for Opera Australia as the 2012 ‘Summer of Mozart’ kicks off this evening at the Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House.

Mozart’s classic opera The Magic Flute has been transformed for the 21st century by acclaimed director Julie Taymor with giant puppets, dancing animals and the next generation of opera stars.

Taymor, creator of the blockbuster Broadway musical The Lion King originally conceived this work for New York’s Metropolitan Opera, aiming to create a new vision for Mozart’s final work 10 years ago. Taking Mozart’s music and an idiomatic translation by American poet J.D. McClatchy, Taymor used her trademark skills in visual art, puppetry, dance and mime to create a brand new work.

This 100 minute show has been designed to appeal to audiences of all ages, and Sydney-siders are lucky to be the first in Australia to witness the spectacular. The show will also tour to Melbourne and Brisbane later in the year.

Not only will the production dazzle audiences, it is also a fabulous showcase for the rising stars of Opera Australia. Almost every member of the cast is a graduate of the Moffatt Oxenbould Young Artist Program, Opera Australia’s acclaimed talent development strategy. Principal vocalist, Nicole Car (Pamina) is a current member of this program, and Andrew Jones (Papageno) and Jane Parkin (First Lady) are recent graduates.

Another young Australian talent, soprano Emma Pearson, will be returning Sydney especially for her appearance as the Queen of the Night, a coveted role which includes two dazzling coloratura showpieces. Pearson is currently a principal artist with the Hessisches Staatstheater in Weisbaden, Germany. Opera Australia favourite Kanen Breen is the frisky jailer Monostatos, and computer-programmerturned-opera-singer David Parkin takes the role of Sarastro.

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Opera Australia’s artistic director Lyndon Terracini says “The Magic Flute is the one show you must take the whole family to see this year. It’s a brilliant piece of theatre, and a brilliant example of what opera can be in the 21st century.”

British conductor Jonathan Darlington, (current music director of Vancouver Opera) will be in Sydney to conduct the opening of the season tonight, with Andrew Greene taking over from 31 January.

The Magic Flute is a real puzzle – not quite an opera, not quite a play with music, and not quite a fairytale. Prince Tamino is lost in a strange land when three ladies approach him and ask him to rescue a beautiful young girl, Pamina, with the help of a magic flute. He agrees to help them, but it soon becomes clear that the ladies and their ruler, the Queen of the Night, are not necessarily the good guys.

Click on image below to view cast list:
Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House

Running time: Approximately two hours with one twenty-minute interval. Performed in English with surtitles


Erin James is's Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Recent appearances include South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

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