1992, Glasgow, Zauberflöte

Die Zauberflöte


Composer : Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
Librettist : Emanuel Schikaneder (English translation, Jeremy Sams)
Venue and Dates : Scottish Opera, Theatre Royal, Glasgow
December 1992, First night: 17 December 1992
Performances in English

Conductor : Nicholas McGegan
Director : Martin Duncan
Designer : Ken Lee
Performers :

Sarastro : Gidon Saks
Tamino : Paul Nilon
Queen of Night : Jennifer Rhys-Davies
Pamina : Susannah Waters
Papageno : Simon Keenlyside
Papagena : Ann Archibald
Monostatos : Rupert Oliver Forbes
First Lady : Susan Chilcott
Second Lady : Carol Rowlands
Third Lady : Elizabeth Harley
Three Boys : Emma Cowing / Rosaria Crolla / Ruth Baillie
The Speaker : David Mattinson
First Man in Armour : Declan McCusker
Second Man in Armour : William Peel
First Priest : Martine Lane
Second Priest : Paul Anwyl
Chorus and Orchestra of Scottish Opera

Notes : If you have more dates or any other information about this performance please let
us know by emailing webmaster@simonkeenlyside.info


Extract from the British Journal by Tom Sutcliffe for Opera News, May, 1993

“Scottish Opera followed up the daring success of Willy Decker’s Giulio Cesare with Die Zauberflöte, directed by Martin Duncan and designed by Ken Lee with a naive storybook atmosphere but a deconstructionist theatrical method. The result was both entertaining and thought-provoking, in part because the performers were enthusiastic and convincing under Nicholas McGegan, whose conducting was sensitive to nuance and rhythmically buoyant, probing the rhetoric of the melodies. Lee, an artist more than a stage designer, devised a marvelously fertile visual language. Duncan directed the acting more like a play than an opera, and the company rose to the challenge.”

“The Queen of the Night (Jennifer Rhys-Davies) was discovered, waiting to give Tamino his commission, on a vast sofa, like a phony fortune-teller. Rupert Oliver Forbes’ Monostatos looked like a black cockroach who was into S&M. The contraptions he supervised for restraining the imprisoned Pamina defined his tastes, and Sarastro’s later reference to seventy lashes seemed more thrill than punishment. The star performance came from Simon Keenlyside, whose Papageno had the appearance of a slightly neurotic, scarecrow-like tramp, sporting stitched-on eyebrows, pointy nose, fluffy purple suit and a parrot feather, worn Indian fashion. The baritone executed some wonderfully birdlike darting movements and a way of lifting his left foot and shaking it. Much of his part was sung standing on one leg, with lovely tone and fine modulation. Paul Nilon’s Tamino weighed his words fully (in the polished, amusing Jeremy Sams translation), arguing his case and singing with clarity and legato. Susannah Waters was a young, poignant Pamina, and Gidon Saks made a straight, approachable Sarastro.”


Extracts from Opera, February 1993 (Rodney Milnes)

A seriously magic “Flute”

“Especially thoughtful was the visual treatment of the two characters who start out on the “wrong” sides: Papageno’s violet costume was decorated with ochre feathers, but in the second act the colour scheme was reversed; Monostatos’s Fantomas-style black-leather rapist’s outfit was studded with ochre crosses in Act 1, but violet in Act 2.”

“The lively Jeremy Sams translation was used, and very well used: the cast spoke and sang the lines – more dialogue was used than at the Coliseum, another indication of the seriousness of the enterprise – as if they had just been written; there was not a whiff of routine.

That was especially true of Simon Keenlyside’s brilliant Papageno. His birdman – most musically sung, it goes without saying – was a beaked, feathered and utterly endearing grotesque, his quirky movements the result of hours of study of the ornithology for which Sharpless never had time. His entrance song, nimbly catching multicoloured birds hurled on like darts from the wings, was a virtuoso performance. He affected a non-specific north-country accent that veered alarmingly from one side of the Pennines to the other and wreaked havoc with some of Sams’s rhymes, but is was used to capture an air of melancholy on the scale of a Keaton or a Max Wall. He and his Papagena (Ann Archibald) were rewarded with an instant family in – of course – little birdcages.

Opera March 1994 (Raymond Monelle) on a revival of this production without SK

“….The conception relied heavily, however, on Simon Keenlyside’s unforgettable Papageno, which departed from the tradition of bumpkinish clowning to present the character as a kind of human bird, with every movement based on a close observation of real birds. None of his successors has been able to repeat this…..”


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