mon 17/02/2020

A Magic Flute, CICT/Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Barbican Theatre | reviews, news & interviews

A Magic Flute, CICT/Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Barbican Theatre

A Magic Flute, CICT/Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Barbican Theatre

Soft-grained singers aren't all there in Peter Brook's crescent-moon Mozart

Abdou Ouloguem, one of the two actors out-charming the singers in a purgatorial dream worldPascal Victor/ArtComArt

Without the definite article, what kind of a Flute is Peter Brook's - beyond, that is, the literal manifestation of a stick on a string that makes no soothing noises? Best describe it as a crescent moon of a version, loosely based on Schikaneder's text with less than half of Mozart's music and matching slivers of voices, attached to mostly fledgling stage presences. The diminishing returns of Brook's operatic deconstructions, from the bold Tragedy of Carmen through the more seriously compromised Impressions of Pelléas, here reach a dead end in a kind of bleached purgatory.

Without a pair of young people who give some sense of adolescent kicking against the grain, what journey is there for them to take?

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The writer approaches this like any other opera review, without any thought of what Brooks was trying to do. Thinking of it as a theater piece with music would apparently stretch his brain too far.

I'd be interested in your interpretation of what Brook was trying to do, Mr Cadenhead, because no-one else I've spoken to seems to know. I think you ought to agree that I tried, and wanted, to find out. And a theatre piece with music - yes, I'm not unfamiliar with those, too - needs to communicate with at least inward energy. None of that here, by any stretch of the imagination.

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