The story starts off with Papageno and Papagena and their little baby bird-child. Papageno tells the baby a story about his birds, and the “real” story begins. The theater is very small, so the children can see everything up close. The characters often enter from the back and walk down the aisle right past the amazed children’s faces. Even though my daughter knows it is all make-believe, the look of amazement on her face as Pamina and Sorastro paraded by us brought tears to my eyes. Many children in the audience sang along with the most famous songs, which, although I found it a bit annoying from an aesthetic perspective, must have been a lot of fun for the kids.
The costumes are remarkable. Each character is a bird from Papageno’s collection and each character wears an elaborate bird headdress identifying his or her character. The colors are astounding, from the pastels of the Dark-Haired Ladies, to the vibrant reds of Papageno and Papagena (right), to the shimmering turquoise of Tamino and the coal-black of Monastatos. And don’t forget the snake-monster at the beginning of the story.
The singing and music are enjoyable for the children as well as for the adults. The production is, of course, in German. There is a live chamber orchestra accompanying the performance, and they perform most all the big and many of the minor singing parts of the original opera. The production lasts about three hours with a 20 minute intermission: a good opportunity to visit the bathroom and enjoy a snack in the bistro. The performance is intended for children 5 and up, but any well-behaved and interested 4-year-olds would probably also enjoy themselves.
Tickets cost EUR 10 for everyone, but discount tickets at EUR 8.50 per person are offered for groups and holders of certain discount cards (call the ticket office or check the internet for details). In addition, discounted HVV tickets are offered for groups, so be sure to inquire when reserving your theater tick-ets. Tickets can be reserved up to 10 days in advance.
My daughter enjoyed the performance so much she is ready to go see it again. Maybe we’ll see you there.
Das Theater für Kinder. Max-Brauer-Allee 65. Tel 38 25 38. www.theater-fuer-kinder.de. Runs September 10 - October 17, Fridays 16:00 and Saturdays and Sundays 14:30.