Every year Bath Spa University puts on an opera production and this year’s was Magnificent Mozart. It was a giant collaboration across many departments and universities, including Bath Spa’s BA Music and BA Theatre Production, with special contributions from the University Centre Weston and Bristol Costume Services for their help with the hair, makeup and costume design. Magnificent Mozart was a two hour performance comprised of two operas, both composed by – you guessed it – Mozart!
The first and shorter act consisted of excerpts taken from the famous Cosi fan tutte. Set in the eighteenth century, two sisters talk (or rather sing) about their gentlemen. This happy affair is soon interrupted as they told that their men are leaving to head off to war. To start with, the women are heartbroken until their maidservant comes to their aid, persuading them to find other men. This light-hearted and funny extract had the mostly English audience laughing at all the right moments, which is surprising considering it was all in Italian.
Then there was a short interval where the sounds of drilling filled the theatre and almost the entire stage was deconstructed. The faux grass was torn away to reveal brightly coloured flooring that was almost painful to the eye. I might not know much about Mozart but that definitely didn’t seem right.
It turned out that the second act was an abridged and modernised version of The Magic Flute that can only be described as a sixties psychedelic acid trip but, trust me, that’s a compliment. Sung in English, this half was a fairy story with a complicated plot line where a princess gets kidnapped, but then is rescued by a prince and his stereotypical jester friend. Somehow they all get roped into a cult but, don’t worry, they live happily ever after.
The first act was expected – old timey, set in a garden, giant skirts – but that second half was definitely something to see. Being a university production I was blown away by the quality of the casts’ performances, especially because of the demanding vocals and complicated sheet music that an opera entails. In addition to this, the set design was intricately detailed and the costumes were exquisite, from the period dresses to the sixties go-go boots. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed myself from start to finish and there wasn’t a single moment where I was bored.
The one downside to this event as a whole was the lack of advertising. I’ll be honest, if I didn’t have friends in this production then I wouldn’t have known about it. The audience of opening night was scarce and littered with people like me, simply there for their friends. It made for a nice atmosphere, but knowing and seeing how much hard work went into it, it’d be nice to see a few more seats filled.
You can find out more about future Bath Spa Live events on their website: https://www.bathspalive.com/Online/default.asp?menu_id=5A16B5CC-1FF7-4875-921B-4EA7D913F6D5