Fairy-Tale Fantasy

The Magic Flute Lights Up Salzburg Festival With Millions of Swarovski Crystals

Take a famously fun-loving composer, a brilliantly imaginative costume designer, a fabulous fairy-tale circus, a world-famous festival, and a handful of operatic superstars. Then blitz it with over a million sparkling Swarovski crystals. Time to enter the enchanting, the wonderfully wild world of The Magic Flute!

If Mozart were alive today you can be sure that the effervescent, flamboyant, irrepressible musical prodigy would have had one or two crystallized items in his wardrobe. As the Salzburg court composer—a rock star of his time—he mixed with 18th century Europe’s high society and loved fine clothes. So it’s fitting that the Salzburg Festival’s performance of his fairy-tale opera, The Magic Flute, should this year be drenched in over a million Swarovski crystals.

This is the sixth year in a row that Swarovski has lit up the famous classical music and drama festival. But the night of July 27, 2018, appeared to be a more extravagant and outrageous spectacle than ever. It has something to do with Vienna’s gifted costume designer Ursula Kudrna. She has interpreted the artistic brief with an untamed circus theme that glitters and fizzes with the fabulous and the fantastic: “It’s the perfect theme,” she says, “because it means I can let my imagination run wild.”

Thousands of hours have gone into making all the costumes. It took 220 of them to create the Queen of the Night’s opulent costume alone, and 100 of those were dedicated to creating her elaborate horned headdress. Soprano Albina Shagimuratova looked luminescent wearing it, the XIRIUS Rose crystal-dipped tips of each horn curling to frame a dainty crown spiked with icicle crystals and beaded with hundreds of Swarovski Crystal Pearls. Her pearl-studded ruff completed the vision in white.

More than 40 other costumes contributed to the dazzling effect: the five Papagena Girls wore custom-laced boots handset with hundreds of crystals, together with tiaras set with shimmering pink hearts created using Crystal Cupchains. Meanwhile, the six Poodle Checkers each required 100 hours of work on their costumes to make them sparkle under the stage lights—those 1,500 hand-applied diamond motifs used up 150,000 crystals. It almost makes the 10,000 scarlet crystals in the 23 Birthday Nurses’ red crosses seem like a trivial amount!

Some of the most charming elements of the show came from the fanciful animal costumes. Six half-woman/half-bears had a seductive, peculiar fascination that was made all the more alluring with twinkling tutus and Crystal Rocks stars blazing across breasts. But it was the 13-foot Stilt Walker who really took the audience by surprise: his eye-popping pants shone out with more than 50 different Crystal Rocks stars.

The Magic Flute is one of the world’s most beloved operas, but it has rarely enjoyed such a fantasy-filled staging as this. How thrilling that Swarovski could add a little extra magic to the music.