The most divine operatic music, Freemason Uncle Wolfgang at his very soon-to-die best; a refreshingly provocative mise en scène by the slightly over-the-sell-by-date archi-provocative La Fura dels Baus; a pleasant springish summer evening at the Teatro Real; and a charming and convincing "Pamina", Swedish-born Marie Arnet (I shouted "Brava" thrice which is a first to me. The Honourable Reader can find Ms. Arnet's photo just to the left of this very paragraph). What more can one ask?
Clavellita would have liked to know how was the performance of "The Magic Flute" that her serious summer suntanning activities prevented her from attending. Just for the apotheotic finale when the stage was stripped of the last scenic walls and one could see, through the gigantic glass doors, the square opposite the West facade of the Opera, it was well worth being there. Like one hundred and something meters of uninterrupted vista, from my butaca in row 5 on the stalls, right through the whole gigantic naked stage, the equally free-of-props backstage, then through the glass surface, to the calle in the end, with people in the little square oblivious to the "Hail the Two who triumphed!" that the Chorus has just sung.
Of the main concepts of the scenic project by Jaume Plensa and the La Fura dels Baus some were real winners, some just so-and-so. Visually of course there were on stage awesome things going on. Like in the very first performance in Vienna, in 1791, all the contemporary "special-effects" were on use. Pamina suspended by ropes, almost at second-floor eights, immense video projections, the Queen of the Night advancing towards us in a telescopic robot that transposed the orchestra, the cutting in salami slices of the stage cavernous space thanks to gigantic inflatable mattresses, you name it. The onirical inside the brain/neural approach was aptly and consistently thought through; the "playstation2"-like imagery for the costumes and the lead-roles was a big much needed face-lifting to a two-hundred year old opera ( The idea of having the Three Boys with remote-control devices with antennas and joy-sticks was VERY effective, transmitting the concept of Command&Control that modernizes the old ideas of puppets and strings). Only Papageno, in red leather glam rock outfit, was not credible at all, failing on the count that the Rousseauesque Good Savage important aspect of his character was lost. Besides, with the sexual-orientation that a costume like this normally implies his longings for a Papagena is just not convincing.
What totally failed was the substitution of the original dialogue parts (in German) by recorded and videoprojected text/poems, written by a poet whose name I don't want to advertise here. The texts in themselves, supposedly resuming the philosophy of the dialogues it replaces, are interesting and have impact (' Al griterio/ responde con silencio,/al vértigo/ con lentitud y calma') , but what is it doing there, for God's sake? In an Opera already with serious problems of fluidity (no "D.Giovanni" here) it makes it even more like a collage of sketches (which, in the end, it never is, thanks to the unifying musical language of Herr Mozart.)
(In the interval, the Muse-on-Duty looked extactic at the sunset in the Royal Palace, as seen from the grandiloquent café-bar in the Sixth Floor. Even the flute of Cava tasted, magically, as Champagne, thanks to the scenery and our Mozart-filled hearts. ).
I would suggest to the Honourable Reader, as I've done before with other key magnum masterpieces, to "collect" a couple of zauberflötes durig His/Her lifetime, and never to pass an opportunity to add a curious new item, as a Fura's contribution would have undoubtedly not fail to be. (That's why the Psycoanalytical Angel proved disappointing in her setting of priorities. For her line of work, an extra-day in the family finca should not have been worth loosing all the psycho-babble extremely interesting speculation that was on offer in this particular magicflute).
In the end you kind of finish a complex puzzle. Orthodox productions (like in Covent Garden or in São Carlos); miniaturist (like I saw in Moscow, with only a dozen instruments!); CD and DVD enjoyment (where you can have a triple A Diva singing the Queen of the Night's Second Act Aria at an affordable price); movie items ( the bit in Milos Forman's "Amadeus" is tremendous and, of course, Bergman's "The Magic Flute" cannot be missed) ; or daring épater-le-bourgeois scenic projects like this FDBaus; enormously rich musically (like in Salzburg) or flat and boring (like, hélas, it can also happen) - it does not really matter. In the end, you get a little nearer to the core of the masterpiece, and after that Iniciatic Journey of your own, you will find yourself a little bit closer to the Light...