The opera Die Zauberflöte has enjoyed ten years of unfailing success at the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre. Mozart's singspiel is performed in Russian. And rightly so: as well as the singing, the opera contains many spoken dialogues, and it is much easier to get to the root of the plot's peripeteia when each word can be understood. This is far from a departure from the original, indeed the reverse, in a sense coming closer to it, because this masterpiece created by Mozart and Schikaneder more than two centuries ago was incredibly democratic. At the Theater an der Wien, where the premiere of Die Zauberflöte took place, foreign operas were also performed in translation in the language that everyone could understand – German.
It is the "democratic" nature and chamber-like "comfort" of the Mariinsky's Zauberflöte along with the remarkable performing skills of the musicians that afford this production a particularly beguiling quality. The singers may find themselves literally a handshake away from the audience, while the audience – even the very youngest – will be at the heart of the action right on the stage.
Most children aged about eight and above don't just "sit patiently" throughout the three hours of Die Zauberflöte in the auditorium, they carefully follow the plot. What is more, there on the stage there are three mysterious ladies dressed in black, three delightful boys in white, a dragon, a lion, a beautiful girl in a white dress with an umbrella, some suspicious "unreal" old woman, a storm with thunder and lightning and a triumphant ceremony... And the adults in the audience can contemplate the deep philosophical content of this magical tale and the magnificence of its music.