Pretty much everyone knows the title.
So, The Magic Flute is a comic opera by Mozart – a very, very famous opera.
Once I say that, for one night my room is full. Maybe two. I wouldn’t bet my hand for more.
If I just look for what the title evokes, then I think of a world of tales, of legend, of the story of the pied piper whose music charmed the rats…
I can also remember some kind of guy dressed as a parrot – and someone will tell me he is Papageno.
So here I am with a very cute and fairy-tale foretaste.
If I add the character of the wicked woman – which is an over-classic character of the tales, then I have everything I need to find childhood happiness.
And yet, you can count the children present. It will be very easy – there wouldn’t be 15 of them.
Yes, because, you see, it’s Mozart.
And it’s an opera.
At the word “opera”, you’ve lost almost all your young people.
I’m not telling you it’s an opera for children.
On the other hand, seeing so few of them in theatres bothers me.
So I’m going to take myself as the “target audience”, since the subject is very classic. Maybe you’ve already noticed it, but I’m not, a priori, very sensitive to classical music.
As for making me spend money for a place…. then there, it’s almost an impossible mission. In fact, it’s more like pulling me with a rope to get me in the room.
As a result, I’m very much in the average range of people who don’t spontaneously come to see a classical music show.
So I asked myself what means (other than a rope) would have to be taken for me to come and take a place in this Mozart opera.
The truth is, this challenge is pretty easy – and no thanks to me.
If I had to convince myself to go and see The Magic Flute, I would play the excerpt from Amadeus where Mozart is seen considering his abominable mother-in-law who reproaches him for being selfish – and who finds herself Aria of the Queen of the Night.
With this, I have a link to the author and the genesis of the work – and even a restive mind like mine is interested.
Afterwards, I can push the adventure a little more with a work like this: if you look at it, you will see that the score played is also explained in a narrative way. The author of these videos is, in my opinion, a person to keep an eye on – because that’s exactly the kind of spirit that a theatre needs to restore popularity to what no longer has it.
Then the story, which has to be told quickly, something like this: Prince Tamino is charged by the Queen of the Night – with the help of the birdcatcher Papageno – to save her daughter Pamina, from the hands of the ugly Sarastro.
Tamino will receive an enchanted flute to protect him.
But quickly the two heroes will understand that Sarastro is in fact the “good guy” who only kidnapped Pamina to free her from her mother’s evil hold.
Since it’s a comic opera and not a tragedy – without giving the ending, obviously it doesn’t end so badly for the best characters.
And once I know the story, the reference to Mozart’s life, his mother-in-law and his wife becomes much tastier. Maybe are you going to tell me: No. A theatre does not use film clips and videos to attract its audience.
Then – why not?
And above all: okay.
But if you don’t use that, then put it back on stage. Please.
In Aix, I met artists who prepare puppet shows that are introductions to the “big” show that frightens neophytes.
It’s a way.
Taking up the path traced by Milos Forman is another possibility (yes – I know: Milos Forman is a pure genius): I don’t propose to remake the whole Amadeus film – but it is possible to ask Opera companies to work on both levels: their opera and a little, the real life of the composer, on stage – especially when there is a link, it will give something.
I don’t think this is such a common request.
– In fact, I know that no one has asked them to do so.
That gives, basically, two shows: a “small” introductory show – and the really big, beautiful show.
And it also gives a whole series of small actions that are done well in advance of the performance date: if I stay on the Magic Flute, I have a million themes to explore – so I’m going to explore that million themes.
This allows me to propose an annual programme built around major works that are difficult to access “just like that”.
And with all these means used to pique my curiosity – at some point – I’m going to crack.
If I haven’t seen the pre-show, I clicked on the videos.
If I haven’t seen the videos, I take the sketches of the set.
If I haven’t seen what the set is going to be, I hear people singing weirdly as they come out of Altair.
If I don’t hear that, I see a lot of different posters presenting the Magic Flute (it’s a great way to get young people to see an opera: you ask them to make a poster for the show, so they know the story – they’ve been given major arias to get them in the mood – and they’ve spent enough time there to say yes, they’ll go and see it).
This will only be for shows that require big seduction means for the youth. That’s what Altair’s heart is all about: giving to love what we don’t love because we don’t know it.
Featured Image : The Magic Flute – by the Opera Comique (Paris) – 2017