For most of our children, it was their first taste of opera this week when the Y5 & Y6 classes visited the Theatre Royal in Newcastle to watch a performance of ‘The Magic Flute’ by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a famous Austria composer. The performance was sung in English and had been specially-devised as a first introduction to opera for children. The Magic Flute is an epic tale about growing up, finding your way in the world and learning to love. Prince Tamino is on a quest to rescue Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night held captive by the Priest of the Sun. But his mission soon becomes a journey of discovery, for nothing – not even Day and Night – is quite as it first appears… Here’s an account by David in Year 6:

‘On Wednesday, Year 5 and Year 6 went to the Theatre Royal in Newcastle, to see a production of The Magic Flute by Mozart. It was based on a story about a bird seller, a captured princess, a prince who wants to rescue her, an evil Queen of the Night,a priest and, of course, a magic flute. prince who was chased by a serpent. The story begins when Prince Tamino gets chased by a serpent and faints, but he is rescued when three ladies appear, on the orders of the Queen of the Night and slay the beast. However, Papageno, the bird seller, comes along and when Prince Tamino wakes, he doesn’t correct the Prince when he assumes Papageno is the hero of the moment. The three ladies return and explain that it was they who saved Tamino, and they give him a picture of Pamina, the Queen of the Night’s daughter. Tamino falls in love with the portrait, but is told that Pamina has been kidnapped by Sarastro, a high priest. Tamino vows to rescue Pamina. Hearing this, the Queen arrives and offers Tamino her daughter’s hand in marriage if he is successful. To aid in their quest, Tamino is given a magic flute and Papageno is given a set of magic bells. Tamino and Papageno are led to Sarastro’s temple by three spirits. Papageno scouts ahead; he finds Pamina and he reassures her that she will soon be rescued. Tamino sneaks into the temple and goes in search of Papageno and Pamina. They all run into Sarastro and his followers. It turns out Sarastro is kind and wise, and he insists that Tamino must undergo a series of tests to prove himself worthy of Pamina.

In the second act, the series of tests begin. Sarastro explains that he kidnapped Pamina from her evil mother, the Queen of the Night, because Tamino and Pamina are meant to be together. Papageno is also promised a wife if he successfully completes the trials. In preparation, they must remain silent — Tamino and Papageno are not allowed to speak.Meanwhile, The Queen appears before Pamina and tries to convince her to kill Sarastro. The Queen sings her famous aria, “Der Hölle Rache”, which translates as “A hellish rage burns in my heart.”But the Queen of the Night’s efforts are in vain. Tamino and Pamina meet again, but because he is not allowed to speak, Pamina fears Tamino no longer loves her. The three spirits reassure Pamina that Tamino does indeed love her. Tamino declares he is ready to be tested, and — together with Pamina — faces the trials of water and fire; with the aid of the eponymous magic flute, they are successful. Papageno, meanwhile, plays his magic bells and his destined mate, Papagena, appears. He is filled with joy. Papageno and Papagena sing their signature duet, Allegro: “Pa- pa- pa- …”. The Queen of the Night is angered by everyone’s love and success; she returns to destroy the temple … but she is cast out into the darkness forever. All is well, everyone is thankful, and they watch the sunrise together.’

Both teachers and children agreed that it was a wonderful performance, full of surprises and of course beautiful, amazing voices. It has certainly inspired lots of us to want to go again to see more operas.

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