The Magic Flute To Start Shooting in January
Branagh Brings Spectacular Interpretation of Mozart's The Magic Flute To The Big Screen

Ideale Audience International, 16 November 2005
**Thanks, Lyn

Principal photography will begin on the major feature film of Mozart’s classic opera THE MAGIC FLUTE on 23 January 2006 at Shepperton Studios in the year that marks the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. Uniquely for a British film, the production will occupy six of the major soundstages at the studio.

Conceived and directed by Kenneth Branagh,THE MAGIC FLUTE features a newly-adapted libretto by Stephen Fry. Musical director James Conlon will conduct the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, with a cast composed of rising young opera stars including Joseph Kaiser as Tamino, Amy Carson as Pamina and Ben Davis as Papageno. The remaining principal cast includes Silvia Moi as Papagena, together with René Pape as Sarastro, Thomas Randle as Monostatos and Lyubov Petrova as the Queen of the Night. With a budget of $27 million the film will be produced by Pierre-Olivier Bardet through his company Idéale Audience, with Stephen Wright as executive producer on behalf of the Peter Moores Foundation. International sales will be handled by Celluloid Dreams.

One of the world’s best-loved operas, in the hands of director Kenneth Branagh and librettist Stephen Fry, THE MAGIC FLUTE will be a cinematic experience both epic in scale and visionary in its interpretation. On the eve of the first global war a magical drama unfolds as Tamino sets forth on a perilous journey in pursuit of love, light and peace in a world afflicted by darkness, death and destruction.

An eerie quiet descends over a landscape still untouched by conflict as Tamino waits anxiously with his fellow recruits for the command to go into battle. In the ensuing chaos he is transported to a twilight world caught between dream and nightmare where he is rescued from certain death by a trio of field nurses. When Papageno (keeper of the canaries employed to detect the presence of gas in the trenches) stumbles onto the scene and attempts to take credit for saving Tamino, the Sisters dispatch the two soldiers on a deadly mission. The duo must rescue Pamina, the lovely daughter of the Queen of the Night, who has been kidnapped by the dark lord, Sarastro. What follows is a spectacular musical adventure in which the destiny of a pair of young lovers will determine the fate of nations and the lives of millions.

Commenting on the announcement, Kenneth Branagh said, "This is a very exciting departure for me as a filmmaker. Working with Sir Peter Moores and his Foundation to help bring this masterpiece to a different audience is an immense and thrilling challenge."

Kenneth Branagh is internationally renowned for his award-winning work adapting and directing the works of Shakespeare. In 1989 he was nominated for both the Academy Award® and BAFTA for direction and as an actor in a leading role for HENRY V, and won the BAFTA for best direction. Subsequent adaptations have included MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, HAMLET, LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST and the forthcoming AS YOU LIKE IT for HBO. Branagh has also demonstrated his considerable range as a director with such films as IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER, MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN, PETER’S FRIENDS and DEAD AGAIN.

Branagh’s prolific talents include his work as an actor on stage (ANOTHER COUNTRY, LOOK BACK IN ANGER), on television (FORTUNES OF WAR, CONSPIRACY) and on film (OTHELLO, RABBIT PROOF FENCE). He has written plays TELL ME HONESTY, which was performed in London, Newcastle and Oslo, and PUBLIC ENEMY, performed in London, New York and Los Angeles; he has adapted Shakespeare's HENRY V, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and HAMLET for the screen and wrote the screenplay for IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER.

As a producer, Pierre-Olivier Bardet’s first venture to bring opera to the screen was the film version of MADAME BUTTERFLY directed by Frédéric Mitterrand which was nominated for two César Awards in 1996. Bardet has produced and executive produced a number of influential classical music documentaries including POLÍGONO SUR which received a special mention for the C.I.C.A.E. prize at the 2003 Berlin Film Festival and the internationally acclaimed Classic Archive DVD series as well as a number of special art projects including DEATH IN THE SEINE by Peter Greenaway, THE COWBOY AND THE FRENCHMAN by David Lynch, ELEGY OF A VOYAGE by Alexander Sokurov and THE LAST LETTER by Frederick Wiseman which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival official competition in 2002.

Contemporary man of letters and renowned wit Stephen Fry’s talents encompass his work as a novelist (THE LIAR, THE HIPPOPOTAMUS) and director (BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS) as well as an established career in British television where he has appeared in such classics as BLACKADDER, JEEVES & WOOSTER and ABSOLUTE POWER. His work in film similarly demonstrates his range, most notably with the leading role in WILDE and in PETER’S FRIENDS where he first collaborated with Kenneth Branagh. More recently he appeared in GOSFORD PARK and THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PETER SELLERS.

Over the course of nearly 30 years of conducting James Conlon has cultivated a vast symphonic, operatic and choral repertoire, and developed enduring relationships with the world's most prestigious symphony orchestras and opera houses. Since his New York Philharmonic debut in 1974, Conlon has regularly conducted the leading orchestras of North America and Europe. He served as principal conductor of the Paris National Opera from 1995-2004, and has conducted more than 240 performances at the Metropolitan Opera since his debut there in 1976. He has also conducted at Teatro alla Scala (Milan), the Royal Opera at Covent Garden (London), the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Florence). Mr. Conlon becomes music director of Los Angeles Opera in the 2006-07 season, and is currently music director of the Ravinia Festival (the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), and the Cincinnati May Festival. Through worldwide touring to North and South America, Asia, and throughout Europe, an extensive discography, and frequent television appearances in Germany, France, Italy, and the US, he is also one of today's most respected and recognized conductors. Conlon was awarded France's Legion d'Honneur in 2001 by the President of the French Republic, Jacques Chirac.

Following a brief early career in opera, Peter Moores joined his father’s business, Littlewoods, in the late 1950s, working his way up to become a leading figure within the company where he remained until 1993. His prestigious public appointments have included influential positions with the BBC, Tate Gallery and Scottish Opera and he is a member of the British Museum Society. He created the Peter Moores Foundation in 1964 to realise his charitable aims in the arts, as well as environmental and social causes. He was appointed a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1991 and received a Knighthood in the New Year's Honours List for 2003 in recognition of his charitable services to the arts.

"For a long time I had thought of making a film of THE MAGIC FLUTE in English," says Sir Peter Moores. "I thought it could reach a wider audience, far outside the opera house. So it was wonderful when Kenneth Branagh agreed to direct the film. He is a visionary filmmaker with a proven record of translating theatrical experiences into film and is working with the singers in enormous detail and with infectious enthusiasm."

THE MAGIC FLUTE is a Peter Moores Foundation production, directed by Kenneth Branagh, produced by Pierre-Olivier Bardet with James Conlon as musical director and Daniel Zalay as music producer. For this production Branagh is reunited once again with Academy Award® nominated production designer Tim Harvey, director of photography Roger Lanser and editor Neil Farrell. The behind-the-scenes team also includes costume designer Christopher Oram, winner of the 2004 Olivier Award for Best Costume Design for POWER.

THE MAGIC FLUTE will be the tenth English language release from Celluloid Dreams, and reinforces their ongoing commitment to deliver a diverse portfolio of films to their international distribution partners.

Back to Articles Listing | Back to the Compendium