Simon McBurney’s ‘life-enhancing’ production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute returns to ENO

25th February 2019 in Press

Simon McBurney’s much-loved production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute returns to the London Coliseum for its third run in March. A collaboration with pioneering theatre company Complicite, this unique rendition of Mozart’s great fable combines singers with a troop of actors evoking a magical world populated with monsters and mystery. Live sound effects, animation, live drawing and the ENO Orchestra raised to stage level make this a joyously accessible operatic event.

Telling the fantastical story of the search for enlightenment of the prince Tamino and his beloved Pamina, one of the most enduringly successful operas of all time is given an intimately theatrical reimagining.

‘A life-enhancing, gloriously creative example of what opera in the 21st-century can be’ (The Spectator), this contemporary spin on the original 18th century pantomime atmosphere features instrumentalists incorporated into the action and action breaking out into the auditorium: ‘few productions of The Magic Flute capture the popular theatrical spirit of the piece better’ -(The Guardian).

Simon McBurney is one of world theatre’s most important contemporary figures. Co-founder and Artistic Director of theatre company Complicite, his vast body of work includes A Disappearing Number, The Master and Margarita and for ENO A Dog’s Heart, nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production in 2011.

His film and television roles include those in Rev, Harry Potter and Mission Impossible, with his ‘astonishing’ (The New York Times) one-man-show The Encounter currently being made into a film.

Rupert Charlesworth takes up his first ENO leading role as Tamino. He was last seen at ENO as Emilio in Partenope in 2017: ‘absolutely dazzles’ (The Arts Desk).

He is joined by soprano Lucy Crowe, who returns to the role of Pamina: ‘London’s best sung Pamina in years’ (The Guardian) that gained her such plaudits for the last run in 2016.  Since then she has given a very well-received Countess in Fiona Shaw’s The Marriage of Figaro in 2018: ‘her sound has such warmth, fullness, and power that it suffuses the whole auditorium with a golden glow’ (The Independent).

Thomas Oliemans takes on another great Mozart comic baritone role as the bumbling birdcatcher Papageno after impressing in the title role of The Marriage of Figaro in 2018. A veteran of this production, he has sung its Papageno at both the Dutch National Opera and the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence: ‘a well-deserved audience darling’ (The New York Times).

German soprano Julia Bauer makes her house debut as the villainous Queen of the Night, having performed it on many occasions in her native Germany, including multiple well- received performances at the Komische Oper Berlin.

Brindley Sherratt sings Sarastro, reprising a role he last sang with the company in 2007. Associated with many ENO roles including Ramfis in Phelim McDermott’s Aida, Creon in Charpentier’s Medea and Pimen in Boris Godunov, he is Artist in Residence and Advisor to the Harewood Artists.

Monostatos is sung by Daniel Norman, who sang the First Jew earlier in the season in Salome. ENO Harewood Artist Rowan Pierce sings Papagena, her second role with the company after a ‘scorching’ (WhatsonStage) performance in Paul Bunyan as Tiny, one she will reprise in May at Alexandra Palace Theatre.

Harewood Artists David Webb and David Ireland sing the Priests and Armed Men. David Webb was last at the Coliseum in 2018 for his ‘stand-out’ (The Guardian) Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream while his Frederic in 2015’s The Pirates of Penzance was praised for its ‘effortless vocal lyricism’ (WhatsonStage). David Ireland sang Colline in La bohème in 2018.

The Three Ladies are performed by Samantha Price, Katie Stevenson and Susanna Hurrell. ENO Harewood Artist Katie Stevenson comes fresh from ‘impressing’ (The Daily Telegraph) in her first lead role with the company in Akhnaten in February while Samantha Price, also a Harewood Artist, was last seen at ENO as the title character in Iolanthe (‘beautiful’ – The Guardian). Susanna Hurrell makes her ENO debut with this production.

The cast is completed by Jonathan Lemalu as the Speaker. He will also sing Sarastro on the performances of 9 and 11 April.

Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic and winner of the Salzburg Festival Young Conductor’s Award Ben Gernon makes his ENO debut. He is one of the youngest conductors to have held a titled position with a BBC orchestra.

This production is revived by Josie Daxter, who has worked on it as assistant director since its premiere in 2013 and revived it for the Dutch National Opera and the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. She is also the show’s Movement Director.

Set Design is by Michael Levine, Costume Design by Nicky Gillibrand, Lighting Design by Jean Kalman (revived by Mike Gunning), Video Design by Finn Ross and Sound Design by Gareth Fry. The translation is by playwright Stephen Jeffreys, who sadly passed away in September 2018.

The Magic Flute opens Thursday 14 March at 7.30pm for 9 performances: 14, 21, 23, and 28 March and 2, 9 and 11 April at 7.30pm, 16 March at 6.30pm and 6 April at 3pm

500 tickets for £20 or less are available for each performance. Tickets start from £12*.

Co-production with Dutch National Opera and the International Festival of Lyric Art, Aix-en-Provence

*Plus booking fee of £2.25. No booking fee in person



Notes to Editors:


English National Opera is the national opera company dedicated to one simple aim: making opera for everyone.

We sing in English to be as accessible to the widest possible audience, we offer over a fifth of all tickets for £20 or less, we create opera that feels different, more theatrical and creatively daring. We’ve been doing this to an internationally recognised standard since being founded in 1931 as Sadler’s Wells Opera.

We bring together artists from different art forms, from photography, sculpture and fashion to dance, slapstick comedy and puppetry, all adding something new to the extraordinary art form that is opera.

We are determined to open up the genre: nearly half of our audiences in 2017/18 were first-time bookers. Our learning and participation programme ENO Baylis last year touched the lives of over 15,000 school children and community groups, and our talent development programme nurtures the careers of singers (the ENO Harewood Artist programme) and conductors (the Charles Mackerras Fellowship).

Our ongoing support and development of British talent meant 80% of the cast in the 2017-18 season were British or British trained. That’s important to us and is fundamental to our ethos of giving new talent their break.

Our home has been the London Coliseum for 50 years this year, and we are committed to cherishing and continuing to develop this national treasure.

In April 2018 ENO was readmitted to the ACE National Portfolio, entering into a four year funding agreement with ACE; delivering public value is at the centre of all we do.

Last year, the percentage of audience members under 44 increased by 13% year-on-year and the proportion of our audience with a black or minority ethnic background increased from 4% to 10%.

ENO is about opera for everyone.



Tamino                                              Rupert Charlesworth

Pamina                                              Lucy Crowe

Papageno                                          Thomas Oliemans

Papagena                                         Rowan Pierce

Sarastro                                            Brindley Sherratt

Sarastro (9, 11 April)                         Jonathan Lemalu

Queen of the Night                          Julia Bauer

Speaker                                             Jonathan Lemalu

Speaker (9, 11 April)                          David Ireland

Monostatos                                       Daniel Norman

First Lady                                          Susanna Hurrell

Second Lady                                     Samantha Price

Third Lady                                         Katie Stevenson

1st Priest/Armed man                      David Webb

2nd Priest/Armed man                     David Ireland

2nd Priest/Armed man (9,11 April)  Robert Winslade Anderson