The Wales Millennium Centre, purpose built for opera, really does the genre justice. Even from seats in the upper circle every one of Mozart’s notes, each sound and every consonant was crystal clear.
The visual appearance of this production is much talked of, and rightly so. The set is minimalist with several doors on and off stage, and relies on the excellent lighting design to change scene and mood. Simple colours are used to characterise people generally, with Papageno’s and the Queen of the Night’s costumes more complex.
Neil Davies’ Papageno was the highlight, sung wonderfully with just the right amount of comic timing. Also very commendable were the Queen’s ladies in waiting who moved in unison and sang with a beautiful vocal blend.
The only let-down of the evening was the audience. Coughs and splutters were almost constant from all over the auditorium and one person’s mobile phone even rang towards the end of the first act. Although many are aware of the conventions of being an audience member, one wonders if the opera would benefit from a pre-show pep talk about keeping quiet and turning your phone off. The cinema doesn’t suffer from it.