Opera North's first production in 10 years of Mozart's The Magic Flute at the Lowry is ... well magical!
There is Mozart's sublime music, a cast of great singers and a wonderfully inventive design that creates its own magic.
James Brining's direction takes us into a dream world starting with a child falling asleep in bed and dreaming of a prince Tamino (Kang Wang) being chased by a monstrous serpent.
She watches as it is killed by three Ladies dressed like female samurai (Lorna James, Helen Evora and Amy J. Payne) and she follows him when he meets Papageno the Bird Catcher (Gavan Ring) and together the two travel to the court of the Queen of the Night ( Samantha Hay), drawn there because the three ladies have shown Tamino a picture of the Queen's daughter Pamina ( Vuvu Mpofu) and he has fallen in love.
However, Pamina is a prisoner of Sarastro (John Savournin). When Tamino and Pappageno arrive at the realm of Sarastro all is not what it seems.
The principal singers are forceful and effective. Samantha Hay sings the famous aria of the Queen of the Night faultlessly. Kang Wang and Vuvu Mpofu are both powerful and moving. I particularly liked the Irish Gavan Ring's Pappageno, full of humour.
John Savournin, despite a cold, was forceful and imposing, all under the direction of Robert Howarth.
Everything was enhanced by the modular, movable set by designer Colin Richmond together with the fantastical, spell-binding projections of Douglas O'Connell.
The whole was enthralling.
The group of children were amusing, the magnificent Opera North Chorus, excellent as always.
There were some intriguing references to Mozart's membership of the Freemasons and some spectacular interpretations of overcoming the trails of fire and water before the light of the sun and Sarastro's community triumph, and Pappageno wins his Pappagena. Well worth seeing.