THE names “Indiana Jones” and “Mozart” don’t often go together in sentences, but that’s not the case for Saturday night’s performance of The Magic Flute in Warrnambool.
Mozart’s famed opera has been given a thoroughly modern makeover by Opera Australia, which takes the composer’s mythical tale of a quest for love and relocates it into an Egyptian tomb.
The production, which is staged at the Lighthouse Theatre on Saturday from 7.30pm, will also feature a local children’s choir, and designer Robert Kemp said it was all about keeping the opera fresh and fun.
“The whole thing has been translated from German into English, which is what (many opera companies) do,” he said. “If you do the original production in the original German you wouldn’t have so much freedom, but as you translate it you can twist it to suit your means.”
Kemp said giving the opera a twist of Egyptology wasn’t a major leap.
“Mozart was a Freemason and he explores Masonic themes a bit in this opera,” he explained.
“This (adaptation) came about because some of the Masonic beliefs stem from or are founded on the Egyptian mystery — that when people started finding tombs and hieroglyphics and myths grew out of that and the Masons were influenced by all of this.
“And in the opera (characters) calls on the Egyptian gods of Isis and Osiris.
“So we thought ‘let’s set it in Egypt’.
“What most modern audiences think of when they think of Egypt is the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in the 1920s, which sent a flood of aristocrats and sightseers to Egypt.
“We put all that together and came up with the idea that if it’s set in a tomb, then lets tap into The Mummy movies and the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb and Indiana Jones.”
Prior to this tour of the production beginning last week, Kemp said it had only been staged in this form once before — on a beach on the Gold Coast in Queensland.
“We wondered, ‘would people come to an opera on the beach?’,” he said.
“Nine thousand people came. A lot of those people had never been to the opera before but they enjoyed it because it’s fun.
“This version is enormously fun and funny.
“You can make an opera funny without sending it up and this is in no way sending up Mozart.
“He was a bit of a larrikin himself so I think he’d heartily approve of this version.”
Opera Australia has been sending a music teacher ahead of the production to prepare a local children’s choir in almost every town, Kemp explained.
“There’s always been a children’s chorus in the play — there are three boys who are spirits who guide our hero through his quest,” he said.
“A good way of opening up the production and involving the community was to use a school choir everywhere we went.”