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“The Magic Flute in Breslau” at Wroclaw Opera: A Daring Twist on a Classic

by Madonna

In a bold fusion of classic 18th-century opera and a contemporary narrative set in early 20th-century German Wroclaw, “The Magic Flute in Breslau” takes audiences on an unconventional journey through the world of Mozart’s timeless masterpiece. The historical backdrop of Wroclaw at that time, characterized by its grittiness, shadowy underbelly, and violence, sets the stage for an opera experience like no other.

Initially, one might fear that this collision of eras and genres would result in an odd juxtaposition, akin to pairing caviar with ketchup. However, the risk taken in this innovative approach pays off, particularly for fans of the unconventional. Marek Krajewski, renowned for his crime novels, takes an unexpected turn as he pens dialogues for this opera performance. While the songs are performed in German, the spoken conversations unfold in Polish, thoughtfully accompanied by English subtitles for wider accessibility.

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The storyline weaves a complex tapestry of characters and intricate plot twists. “The Magic Flute in Breslau” boldly asserts that opera, as a genre, is far from antiquated or inflexible. Instead, it represents a fresh direction and an original vision for the future of opera. Under the meticulous direction of Michal Znaniecki, darkness and crime are deftly extracted from the narrative, accentuating the multifaceted nature of the characters. Their moral compasses are so convoluted that one can never be certain whether they lean towards virtue or vice.

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This performance is far from the fantastical and enchanting interpretations often associated with “The Magic Flute.” It ventures into the realms of cruelty and revulsion, exposing a brutal and unapologetically stark vision of action, death, ruthlessness, and a candid portrayal of a dark world. Even though Mock, portrayed by Jacek Jaskula, serves as a narrator, the overarching darkness casts a pervasive shadow over his character. The stories of Pamina, Tamino, the Queen of the Night, Saraster, Papen, and others intermingle, converging into a single, unsettling narrative that seems to entwine itself around the audience, leaving a palpable impact.

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The choreography, especially in the opening of the second act, is a testament to the production’s brilliance. Bozena Klimczak’s keen sense of the dark ambiance of Breslau shines through, immersing the audience in the city’s ominous atmosphere. The chorus, with their contrasting luminosity, provides a beautiful equilibrium that complements the production as a whole. Magdalena Dabrowska’s costume design seamlessly blends into the production’s multifaceted charm.

Luigi Scoglio’s set design is visually striking, with dynamic elements that not only rotate but also ascend and descend, enhancing the overall experience.

This innovative and audacious production, at times explicit in its themes, is a must-see for devoted Mock fans. It also extends an invitation to those who may be apprehensive or bored with the classical image of opera. “The Magic Flute in Breslau” immerses the audience in a world inhabited by prostitutes, drugs, murderers, malevolence, and demons – themes that have always been present in classical opera but are presented here with a gritty authenticity that is undeniably compelling.

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