A Magic Flute - Barbican Theatre, 23 March 2011
Proof that even geniuses have off days. Peter Brook's A Magic Flute (note the indefinite article) is the great director's interpretation of Mozart's Zauberflöte.
Pared down to the absolute minimum, he believes it throws an intimate and spiritual light on the masterpiece. What it actually does is stick a bunch of wispy-voiced young singers in a forest of portable garden canes with naught but a piano in support.
Secondary characters like Boys and Ladies are excised. Spiel is trimmed and en français. A couple of dreadlocked actors (the only real sign of life) are employed to patch up the holes left by all this snipping and shaving.
The result is a bore and a half, with a mildly nauseating aura of hushed reverence about it. Mozart's music is the beating heart of his opera, not an optional extra. Brook of all people should realise this. Or perhaps he does - the show runs at 90 minutes without an interval - so no escape for the terminally enervated.
The Barbican had the cheek to charge up to £50 for tickets. You could find something considerably livelier at any pub opera night - and with better singing.
This is an opera I love beyond reason, and it can stand up to a lot of abuse - think of the brilliant South African version at the Young Vic a couple of years ago. Peter Brook goes a cut too far.