Mozart’s final opera, The Magic Flute, is a staple of Germany’s opera houses, and continues to be frequently produced in theatres internationally. Melbourne-born Barrie Kosky found himself under pressure to deliver a production of the 1791 Singspiel – comic opera with spoken dialogue – soon after becoming artistic director of Berlin’s Komische Oper in 2012. He resisted, insisting the work was a ‘graveyard for directors’, its tripartite quest for love by half-bird, half-man Papageno, the abducted Pamina, and the prince Tamino prone to pantomime triteness.
However, Kosky then found co-conspirators to help him make the Flute fresh, by teaming with director, writer, and performer Suzanne Andrade and illustrator Paul Barritt, co-founders of the Margate- and London-based 1927, a production company named for the year of the first sound film, The Jazz Singer. The pair specialises in integrating animation into live performances. Together, Kosky, Andrade, and Barritt have created a Die Zauberflöte for export by taking some queues from silent era cinema; in their version of the Flute, Hollywood meets German expressionism.