• Film

“The Magic Flute” and “Carmen”: Opera-Based Films We Will See This Spring

Hollywood began with musical films, many of which were Broadway musicals adapted for big screens. But from long before that, there has been opera, an art marrying the craft of extraordinary singing, orchestral scoring, emotional storytelling and opulent set and costume design that has been entertaining people for centuries.

Opera has made some memorable cinematic cameos, including the moments when it has stolen scenes in The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Shawshank Redemption, Citizen Kane and Pretty Woman.

Filmmakers have been constantly inspired by opera. Some of them have merely followed the songbooks of classical composers, like Puccini’s La Bohème, directed by Golden Globe nominee Robert Dornhelm in 2008, or Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess directed by Golden Globe nominee Otto Preminger and winning Golden Globe as Best Picture – Musical in 1960. Others have used dramatic performances and music as a base for contemporary cinematic interpretations.

One of such fresh takes is The Magic Flute directed by Florian Sigl and theatrically released in the USA this last weekend. Produced by Roland Emmerich, this is a musical fantasy film that is loosely based on the 1971 opera of the same name by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The story follows Tim Walker (Jack Wolfe), who dreams of studying at the prestigious Mozart All Boys Music School. Once he is finally admitted, he gets his dream role of Prince Tamino. When he finds a magic flute that transports him to the world of Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute, he literally must become his character to face three trials before making his wish come true. Co-starring with Golden Globe winner F. Murray Abraham, the upcoming star of Shadow & Bone reveals a great gift for singing, and the film offers an amazing combination of epic fantasy and incredible music.


Interestingly, The Magic Flute was previously used by Golden Globe winner Kenneth Branagh in his English-language take on Mozart’s opera in 2006: there, the role of Tamino was played by professional opera singer Joseph Keiser, and the story was updated to a World War I setting, otherwise following the structure of the original opera libretto.

Moreover, Branagh’s film was the first motion picture version of the acclaimed opera specifically intended for cinemas. The 1975 film version of The Magic Flute directed by Golden Globe nominee Ingmar Bergman was made for Swedish TV and only later released in theaters.

Another contemporary take on opera classics of is Carmen, heading to theaters this spring with a debut in select cinemas on April 21.


The opera by Georges Bizet, which first premiered back on March 3 1875, is based in Prosper Mérimée’s novel of the same name and considered to be one of the most frequently adapted operas.

The various takes on Carmen’s story have included 1948’s The Loves of Carmen starring Golden Globe nominee Rita Hayworth, 1954’s Carmen Jones directed by Golden Globe nominee Otto Preminger and starring Golden Globe nominee Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte, and even 2001’s Carmen: A HipHopera starring Golden Globe nominee Beyoncé.

The newest Carmen is a feature directorial debut by Benjamin Millepied that originally premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022. The film moves the story’s location from Spain to a desert in Northern Mexico, and the selected lyrics from the opera’s libretto are sung in the original French by a choir as a background.


The story follows a young and fiercely independent woman who is forced to flee her home in the Mexican desert after the brutal murder of her mother. Carmen, who is played by Melissa Barrera, dreams of life in Los Angeles and she survives the dangerous and illegal border crossing into the US only to be confronted by a volunteer border guard. When the border guard and his patrol partner, Aidan – a former Marine with PTSD, played by Paul Mescal – become embroiled in a deadly standoff, Carmen and Aidan are forced to escape together. They make their way toward Los Angeles where they find solace and love for each other.