At the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, a Flute that lacks enchantment

Cédric Klapisch’s production remains basic, with minimal scenography and disappointing video illustrations for a man of images. STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP

CRITICISM – In his staging of Mozart’s opera, Cédric Klapisch sticks to a conventional reading.

For his first foray at the Opera, filmmaker Cédric Klapisch launches into The Magic Flute, At Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. His respectful attitude towards one of the most popular titles in the repertoire will be both the merit and the limitation of his approach. Merit, because his search for consensus speaks to a warm audience, quickly silencing some attempts to boo. Limiting, because once exposed his astute dramaturgical bias, he sticks to a conventional theatrical reading.

Past the need for habituation the alternation between spoken French and sung Germanthe rewriting of the dialogues is pleasant, often anecdotal, sometimes funny (“Behave like a man. It’s so gendered! It’s 1791, man!”). Like many directors, Klapisch circumvents the Manichaeism of light and night by distributing the roles between a Queen of the night placed on the side of nature and a Sarastro defending the progress of civilization, each with their…

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