British director is attacked in Italy over pro-migrant Magic Flute

British director is attacked in Italy over pro-migrant Magic Flute


norman lebrecht

July 24, 2018

Graham Vick has inflamed the Italians, again, with an overtly political opera.


His production of Mozart’s Magic Flute in Mecarata shows a bulldozer about to flatten a migrants’ camp. Members of the chorus simulate drowning refugees. The production is described as ‘anti-racist’.

Sections of the audience booed on opening night and a Liga politician said: ‘This is a massacre damaging Mozart and the spectators.’

Read on here.



  • Simon Tavener says:

    Whilst I am all for artistic freedom, I am also a supporter of directors who derive their interpretations from the text rather than imposing an agenda on an existing work. I can see nothing in Magic Flute that can justify such an interpretation.

    • David Nice says:

      How about seeing before judging? So many folk prepared to weigh in. I personally can see why there might be a basis for what Vick is doing. And I’ve loved his recent work. If only he were bringing Flute to Birmingham next year. His Khovanshchina, also contemporary and rich, was one of the most original opera productions I’ve ever seen.

      • Henning says:

        Being original does not make it good!!

      • Una says:

        I have worked with Graham in the past. In Britain perhaps he’s get away with such an interpretation but not in Italy and their migrant situation, not a good idea I would think. No I haven’t seen it either but I know the opera inside out and back to front as a singer, and I fail to see the need for this opera to have something more imposed on it. Its all in tge text and in tge music. Wonder what poor Mozart had in mind.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Some more votes for the Liga courtesy of English poseur.

  • Nik says:


  • Elizabeth owen says:

    Well done Graham keep it up.

  • Alexander says:

    poor Italy … it is just about calming down with the migrants and that production is like another log on the fire

  • anon says:

    Bravo, opera audiences feel better about themselves, opera producers feel good, the migrants are happy back on their sinking boats that opera audiences and producers are happy, God is in his heaven, the sun is shining, time for my afternoon nap after 2 bottles of rosés, let me put on some Mozart to help with the digestion.

  • Caravaggio says:

    More CNN (or BBC) opera, I see. How predictable and unoriginal. Depraved too. Music reduced to soundtrack for directors’ whims.

  • Doug says:

    “Anti-racist” you say? I would say they are racist, patriarchal, colonialist, xenophobic, capitalist running dogs for A. Using dead white male music B. Charging admission to attend C. Raping mother Gaia of precious resources by powering the “opera house” which is just a monument to Christian hegemony. They should really just gather in a drum circle if they were truly “woke.”

  • Petros Linardos says:

    I am all for attacking racism and racist politicians, but don’t understand why the opera stage is a suitable place.

  • Anson says:

    In the never-ending Slipped Disc commenter debates, I’m usually on the side of being more in favor of avant garde opera. Sadly, in this production — as with far too many others — seems determined to hit the audience over the head with a club that has zero relevance to the opera.

    It’s fundamentally, aesthetically bizarre to play music of exquisite subtlety and, at times, delicacy, and insist on directorial decisions that are the equivalent of an air horn. Forget whether you agree with the message or not, it’s just bad opera.

  • Dennis says:

    Clearly a worthy successor to the Don Giovanni dead horse

    • Nick2 says:

      . . . which in itself was a worthy (!) successor to his bank of toilets in an early Scottish Opera Giovanni.

  • Deborah Mawer says:

    Is that Norman in the photo ? Was it taken in Birmingham ?

  • Alex Davies says:

    Like most people, I haven’t seen the production, but I’m struggling to understand how it would work. Are the migrants oppressed subjects of the Queen of the Night struggling to gain admission to the Brotherhood? I can just about see how that would work, although identifying western civilization with enlightenment is generally perceived as being racist.

    Something that puzzles me is Graham Vick’s targeting of the Catholic Church as one of ‘the three ills of modern society’, together with Apple and banks. In the context of the migrant crisis and racism the Catholic Church is undoubtedly very much on the same side as Vick himself. The Church has been prominent both in campaigning on behalf of refugees and offering immediate practical help.

    Here in the UK, for example, see the now defunct organisation Strangers into Citizens, founded by prominent lay Catholic academic and journalist Dr Austen Ivereigh and closely affiliated with the official Church hierarchy. Although now defunct, this organisation was very much representative of the Church’s teaching and action. The Catholic bishops have been among the foremost voices lobbying politicians for a generous welcome to refugees, while Catholic charities such as Cafod are active in helping refugees in practical ways. I personally know Catholic parishes that are supporting refugees living in the local community.

    The Church has a poor image among some people, evidently including Graham Vick, but I fear that they tend not to know very much about what the Church actually teaches and does. For example, the Church is probably the single most important organization campaigning for abolition of the death penalty around the world, which is probably the sort of thing of which Vick would approve.

    • Sue says:

      It all sounds like a hideous piece of agitprop and a total yawn. “The migrants” know the dangers when they cross that water but, as usual, with the Left nobody has any personal responsibility for his/her decisions and those they make on behalf of innocent children.

  • Novagerio says:

    Are you giving LA LEGA credit for knowing their Mozart better than most?
    By the way, LA LIGA is the spanish soccer championship (!!!)

  • Saxon Broken says:

    Alex Davies writes: “Like most people, I haven’t seen the production…”

    Like most people, I won’t be going to see the production…