The Magic Flute at the New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

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Purists will never approve of opera performed with a reduced orchestra and no chorus, but it has three significant virtues.

It is more affordable. It enables mostly young singers to gain experience without having to strain to fill a large theatre (no microphones in opera, of course). And it tends to be huge fun.

Some might say Co-Opera Co’s Mozart overplayed the fun at the expense of the serious content of good versus evil – lots of fantasy with fluffy bunnies, clever shadow-play, snazzy costumes, and modern exclamations such as ‘Yee-ha!’ and ‘You’re such a girl!’, but the seriousness was evident when it most needed to be.

Alarm bells rang when it was announced that the scheduled Tamino had lost his voice and would mime while Ben Thapa sang it in the wings, but the procedure worked with Thapa’s the most passionate voice.

Co-Opera Co will return with Bizet’s Carmen, on December 9-10.