The Magic Flute preview: Durham Opera Ensemble

By Helena Snider 

On the 16th and 17th of February, Durham Opera Ensemble (DOE) will be returning to the Gala Theatre to perform Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

Set in a mysterious land between the sun and the moon, the opera follows quests of love, vengeance and courage. Director Alabama Jackson has put a twist on the visual aspects of this production, setting it in modern day. Involving huge projections and video footage, she aims to reflect the differences of the ‘real’ and ‘mythical’ worlds of the characters.

The Magic Flute contains a huge array of characters – from the infamous and terrifying Queen of the Night, to the clumsy and naïve bird catcher Papageno, to the serious and powerful High Priest Sarastro. Speaking with some of the performers, it is clear that developing their characters is a process which they have relished. Here the cast answer questions about their characters and rehearsals:

If you had to describe your characters in three words what would they be?

Ashleigh Charlton (Papagena) – flirtatious, fun and fabulous

Pete Dunn (Papageno) – transparent, ignorant, loveable

Rob Singleton (Tamino) – proud, romantic, naive

Will Hirtzel (Sarastro) – misunderstood, powerful, benevolent


What is your favourite thing about your character?

Pete – he’s blissfully unaware of almost everything around him.

Will – his flashy costume (spoiler alert – much flammable material involved).

Emily Barnes (Pamina) – her sense of friendship and her virtuous nature.


What is it like being given the opportunity to work on such a famous opera in the Gala?

Pete – You don’t realise how much of a genius Mozart was until you actually sing and study his music, so you must come and listen to hear it.

Will – it’s really exciting, but of course a daunting prospect, but a really fantastic opportunity.


Why should people buy tickets?

Pete – The Magic Flute has everything you’d want from an evening at the opera: beautiful music and a fantastically spell binding tale of love, suicide, despair, death and enlightenment.

Emily – this show is a culmination of months of hard work of a truly talented group of people – it has been such a great process.

Will – This isn’t just a work of art, this is a work of Mozart.

Rob – they’re selling very quickly so you don’t want to miss.

Photograph: DOE prod team 

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