MWM co production of THE MAGIC FLUTE

This summer is hotting up in the East for the Museum! The WAKING THE WITCH exhibition which runs in Canterbury until 15th June features five objects from the collection. Then MWM moves south to the coast; from 29th June to 7th July, a new version of Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE plays at the PELAGIAN FESTIVAL in Sandwich. MWM are acting as occult advisors on the story (it’s not called The Magic Flute for nothing). Simon Costin, the Museum’s Director, is also art directing and designing the props for the show, which is sung by singers from The Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, directed by Catrin Wyn Davies (Singing Works Antwerp/WNO/ENO). Suitably magical costumes by Dorothy Fothergill who has designed beautiful head dresses made from preserved flowers from the Lutyens gardens of The Salutation in Sandwich, gold medallists at Hampton Court and Chelsea Flower show.

THE MAGIC FLUTE explores occult and arcane themes throughout, describing the journey from darkness to light, which was the allegory which Mozart and his librettist Schikaneder used to demonstrate the dawn of The Enlightenment which occurred throughout Europe in the 18th C. Both Mozart and Schikaneder were Masons, and much of the story’s subtext contain veiled references to ritual and practice. Traditionally, the default setting for the opera is The Pyramids in Ancient Egypt; our setting is of course the British Isles! MWM’s sister museum is The Museum of British Folkore; inspiring the location for this version of the story as the Arcadian setting of the English countryside in mid summer. Members of an itinerant band of Pagans, Children of the Sun, have set up a peace camp in the grounds of a disused boarding school, on their way home from Solstice at Stonehenge. The Queen of the Night, a dark, enigmatic and shadowy figure – think Cruella de Ville channelling her inner vampire, is on the lookout for her daughter Pamina, who has had more than enough of gloom and darkness and run off to join the Pagans for a fun time and dare we say it, a summer of love. Tamino, our hero, is a recently arrived refugee, who sets off with his vagabond friend, Papageno. Sarastro, the leader of the Pagans, is not the baddie that the Queen of the Night would have everyone believe… the action in act two shifting to a place where there are standing stones, the domain of the Pagan. Here are trials by fire and water; the initiation into their number, the rite of passage and admittance to the light, to knowledge and self hood. In the end, despite the best efforts of the The Queen of the Night, true love and light win the day.