If you’re looking for a little cultural ambiance this weekend, look no further than the Yale Opera Theater’s production of W.A. Mozart’s, “The Magic Flute,” directed by professional director Alex Yang and conducted by Perry So ’04.
This whimsical, farcical fairy tale of an Opera was deemed “Mozart’s greatest work” even by the cynical Beethoven, who like audiences at the time, was no doubt intrigued by the mythical story. First performed in 1791, the work utilized the new techniques of staging and appealed to the commercial audience. Today, “The Magic Flute” is viewed by many as the quintessential opera technician’s dream, full of creative outlets for special effects.
The Opera is the love story of Tamino (Stephen Hopkins ’06), an Egyptian prince and Pamina, the daughter of the deceptive Queen of the Night (Genevieve Essig ’05). Aided by only his magic flute and the help of the comical Papageno (Edward Bailey ’05), Tamino must endure a long journey including trials by fire and water before the lovers can be united.
The story, which is fantastical in itself, relies partly on staging to convey the fanciful elements of Tamino’s journey.
Lisa Holme ’05, the show’s producer, emphasizes that the opera is “supposed to be a technically intense show. Most of the effects are written in the script.” In this way, “The Magic Flute” is an interesting harmony of the past and present, as new technology such as lighting and sound effects are used to express the music of a classical composer.
Those wary of language barriers need not be, as the speaking parts and supertitles of “The Magic Flute” are done in English, with the singing performed in German. The crew of the show translated the show themselves, further proof of the production members’ dedication.
For those involved with “Flute,” it is not just another theater production at Yale. They are passionate about bringing opera to the student community, a place where the art form is rarely showcased. So passionate, in fact, that the admission to the show’s performances is free.
Joshua Barnard ’05, the show’s artistic director, is positive about Yale Opera’s outreach to students.
“We believe very strongly in doing some of the great works of opera,” he said. “Doing such classic works serves our double goal of giving singers the best experience possible and providing a show that will be a good introduction to opera for the uninitiated.”
The show’s classical themes with a modern twist provide an easy entrance for even the most operatically challenged.
For the performers involved in the show, the performance of the demanding opera music is challenging.
Hopkins admits that he “was not aware of the extreme difficulty of preparing such a demanding role [as Tamino].” However, he was able to work on the part with the help of voice coaches. Hopkins hopes “the audience will enjoy meeting and knowing [Tamino] as much as I thoroughly enjoyed portraying him.”
One of the most impressive things about the show is the scope of people involved. Students from all types of backgrounds join the Yale Opera Theatre, and that is one of the reasons that the performances end up being such unique and interesting events.
“It is collaboration,” Holmes said, “bringing people together from sections of Yale that wouldn’t normally interact. We have singers, actors, musicians and designers. They are the superlatives at what they do.”