The 2018/19 season, the first under new Artistic Director of Opera, ONO Kazushi, kicks off with a new production of Mozart's much-loved masterpiece Die Zauberflöte. Known as a Singspiel - a form of popular German musical drama with spoken dialogue - the work is full of familiar tunes including the dazzling, stratospheric aria of the Queen of the Night, Papageno's jolly Bird-Catcher's aria and the tuneful "Pa-pa-pa-pageno" duet.
For this season opening, the New National Theatre Tokyo presents South African visual artist William KENTRIDGE's celebrated staging which has been hailed around the world with huge successes at La Monnaie, La Scala, Aix-en-Provence Festival and elsewhere. Increasingly in demand as opera director, including at the Metropolitan Opera and Salzburg Festival, KENTRIDGE makes bold and imaginative use of animated film and projection, which has become a distinct feature of his work. It is the express wish of Artistic Director ONO, with decades of experience in European opera houses, to present this production which tackles contemporary issues yet is also visually pleasing and doesn't distract from the music.
Taking the baton is Roland BÖER who conducted KENTRIDGE's production at La Scala, and the cast includes notable international singers, Mozartian tenor Steve DAVISLIM (Tamino), rising baritone Andrè SCHUEN (Papageno) and young Serbian bass Sava VEMIC (Sarastro), alongside top-class Japanese singers.
A young prince Tamino is saved from a serpent by the Three Ladies in the service of the Queen of the Night. The bird-catcher Papageno boasts that it was him who killed the creature, and is punished. When Tamino learns that the Queen's daughter Pamina has been abducted by the evil Sarastro, he vows to rescue her. He is given a magic flute and Papageno magic bells for protection. When they arrive at Sarastro's palace, however, Tamino discovers that Sarastro is in fact a wise ruler, and it is the Queen of the Night who is evil. Tamino and Papageno are invited into the palace.
Tamino agrees to undergo trials of initiation in order to gain Pamina's hand, and Papageno also reluctantly agrees as he wants a wife too. Meanwhile, the Queen of the Night appears to her daughter, and giving her a dagger orders her to kill Sarastro. Pamina is confused, but Sarastro explains that only love prevails in this sacred place. However, when Tamino won't speak to her because he is on a vow of silence she is grief-stricken and tries to kill herself. Eventually, though, the two are successfully reunited and they face the ordeal of fire and water together. Happily, Papageno finds Papagena too. The Queen of the Night and her followers try to attack the temple but are engulfed in thunder, and the opera ends with a chorus hailing Sarastro and his wisdom.
Production of Aix-en-Provence Festival and Rouen Opera, created at Théâtre de la Monnaie in 2005