IU Opera and Ballet Theater opens its fall season with a production of The Magic Flute by Mozart and Schikaneder. It is sung in German with an English surtitle and the actors speak in English during the dialogue. It’s a singspiel, so there are plenty of times the cast lets us in on what’s going on. Saturday night I chose to stay home and was treated to video magic of close ups and wide shots.
There are more performances this Friday and Saturday at the Center d’Arts Musicales and of course online.
The Magic Flute is a classic tale about the struggle between good and evil and logic versus emotion. It is represented by the august presence of the low notes of High Priest Sarastro, Noah Lauer and the Maternal Queen of the Night, high note specialist Maggie Kennebrew. The audience and the orchestra, led by the masked Arthur Fagen were masked both in the house and in the pit. Michael Shell is the director
The opera begins with an overture and then there is the dragon, which scares our hero, Tamino, Gavin Hughes. The dragon is sent by the queen’s ladies: Melinda Wagstaff, Lindsy Webber and Arienne Fort Connack. Pagano, our beloved bird catcher Anthony Jesop tries to take credit for the deed, but is quickly stopped from lying. When the ladies show Tamino, Pamino’s, Sarah Rachel Bacani, picture, he immediately falls in love. The Maternal Queen of Night appears and she promises that Pamina will be his if he saves her from the evil Sarastro. The queen’s ladies give Tamino a magic flute and Pagano a set of bells. Led by the Spirits, Alexandra Branton, Caroline Goodwin and Evri Bailey with a crazy set of bike wheels and tires they go.
Meanwhile… Papagena, Brianna Murray, disguised as an old woman tries to tempt Papagano out of her dinner. Tamino discovers that Sarastro is not the evil man described by the Queen of the Night but the high priest who protects Pamine from her mother. At the same time, the evil servant Monostatos, Lucas Newman-Johnson captures Pamina and Papagano. Monostatos is blamed for his presumption…seventy-seven whipped to the bottom of his feet, but whose counting. Tamino agrees to go through a series of leads and the act ends.
Twenty minutes later, the audience gathers and it’s time for the second act.
Sarastro meets the order, all masked by the way, in a secret meeting room in the temple. Here he instructs Tamino and Papano of the tests they will face on their journey to enlightenment. The first test is Silence and Tamino and Papagano are forbidden to speak. Tamino is brought in to confront Pamina and yet he refuses, even in the face of the luscious food and the temptations of the queen’s three ladies. And yet, he resists. On the other hand, when Papagano meets an old woman, he does not see that she is the girl of his dreams and he tries in vain to catch her.
Meanwhile, Pamina is in despair when the Queen of Night appears and orders her to kill Sarastro. Monostatos tries to use his problem as a way to seduce her. Sarastro arrives in time to drive Monostatos away and explains that in his kingdom there is no place for hatred and revenge. Pamina confronts him but to no avail. She is deeply depressed and contemplates suicide. She is stopped in time by the three spirits who explain that Tamino needs her.
Tamino is now ready to face the final two trials, Fire and Water. Pamina arrives and with her they go through the trials. Victory creates cosmic change and victory is won. Papagano is discouraged and the three Spirits arrive to remind him to use the magic bells. Papagena appears and the two lovebirds are united with visions of a happy marriage and many children.
The Queen of Night comes to the temple and furious at being thwarted, she attempts to attack Sarastro’s temple, aided by her three ladies and Monostatos. In the end, an eclipse occurs and Sarastro and the Order of Men and the Queen with her followers realize that everything has changed. Tamino and Pamina then lead to a new state of enlightenment and equality.
This Friday and Saturday there will be more performances both at the Musical Arts Center and online.
I am George Walker