THEATRE REVIEW: Welsh National Opera's Magic Flute, Liverpool Empire
The original German text was replaced by Jeremy Sams's well-translated version in English; the Masonic-type brotherhood donned raincoats and bowler hats and Pamina, the captured princess, was very Pre-Raphaelite heroine.
The stage was flanked, farce-like, by a series of doors, through which the monster of the opening scene - resembling a giant lobster - snapped with his head and claws until effortlessly offed by the Queen of the Night's ladies-in-waiting.
When not polishing off sea creatures with a flick of the wrist, these three (played by Carolyn Dobbin, Camilla Roberts and Joanne Thomas) busied themselves between trying to control their attraction to Tamino and tempting him with flashes of their red tights.
As the prince who finds himself facing a series of trials, with the prize a princess, Peter Wedd was every bit the brooding hero - and straightman to birdcatcher Papageno, the brightest light in the show.
Dressed in an eccentric feathered coat, Neal Davies handled this role perfectly - not over playing his clownish traits yet winning plenty of laughs.
Julian Crouch's set had some lovely touches - particularly a giant fish-shaped bicycle ridden by the three boys in the opera, whose energetic peddling could not detract from the sweetness of their voices.
Former Merchant Taylor's pupil James Southall did a fine job in his WNO conducting debut, for a production that, under director Dominic Cooke, emphasised the comedy elements of Schikaneder's libretto as well as building moments of dramatic tension.