I squired my eight-year old son Milo to Julie Taymor's pixie-dust production of The Magic Flute at the Met yesterday. The outing marked the culmination of a carefully strategized intro to opera, which began in October with Cenerentola in Chicago, featuring the boyish Juan Diego Flórez, and continued with Rachel Portman's The Little Prince. The Queen of the Night's removable wings, operated by a retinue of lurkers in black body suits; dancing bears made of bedsheets; the three boy-sprites in ankle-length white beards, travelling by avian skeleton - all that nifty stage business seemed pefect for the third-grade crowd. OK, so it's long, but I figured that if he's got the attention span to spend Walküre-length Saturday afternoons slaying animated trolls at the computer, then a three-and-a-half-hour opera ought to be a breeze. Actually, The Magic Flute is not so different from the game he's currently obsessed with: Age of Mythology: The Titans. Both boast stiff-legged figures with stentorian voices wearing an ecumenical assortment of costumes (Taymor's Tamino is surely history's only Isis-worshipping samurai warrior). Both require the hero to pass through ordeals and equip himself with magical powers and specialized equipment along the way in order to achieve some vague endpoint of triumphant bliss . Milo had no problem understanding Tamino's need to collect virtue points in order to move to the next level. Papageno made him laugh, as did Monostatos' belly. Oh, yeah, and the music was OK too. What more can you ask?
JDavidson8 at nyc.rr.com