Lawrence University joins in the world-wide celebration of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with three performances of the composer’s ever-popular opera classic “The Magic Flute.”
The opera will be staged Thursday and Friday Feb. 16-17 at 8 p.m. and Sunday Feb. 19 at 3 p.m in Stansbury Theatre of the Lawrence Music-Drama Center, 420 E. College Ave. Tickets, at $10 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens, can be purchased through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.
The last of 20 operas written by Mozart — it premiered in Vienna on September 30, 1791, less than three months before he died — “The Magic Flute” is built around the simple but timeless plot themes of man’s search for true love and the fundamental desire to help good triumph over evil. It is considered by some the most fanciful and wide-ranging of the composer’s operatic works, exploring numerous musical styles and theatrical devices.
“Mozart and the German librettist Emanuel Schikeneder used story lines and images from Masonic rites as their source material for this opera,” said Timothy Troy, the J. Thomas and Julie Esch Hurvis Professor of Theatrea and Drama who will direct the production. “Those elements give the opera a sense of mystery and good-natured melodrama.”
The production will feature a combination of large, three-dimensional sculpture and projected images of ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Mesopotamia and Celtic Ireland. The set is designed to create the mysterious world the two main characters, Tamino, a handsome Egyptian prince, and Pamina, the daughter of Astrifiammante, the wicked Queen of the Night, navigate their way through before eventually marrying.
The opera’s title comes from the flute Tamino is given that enables him to sound an alarm and summon help in time of peril during his efforts to rescue Pamina.
David Becker, director of orchestral studies at Lawrence who will serve as conductor for the production, says it is the deft blending of so many different elements that makes this particular opera special.
“The unusual exploration of almost slapstick comedy along side of humanitarian symbolism relating to his affiliation with Freemasonary, along with use of Austrian folk song, Italian vocal display, German ‘singspiel,’ the revival of Baroque contrapuntal style and the masterful combination of his magical music with the libretto makes ‘The Magic Flute’ not only one of Mozart’s greatest operatic creations but arguably one of the greatest of all German operas,” said Becker.
What “The Magic Flute” lacks in terms of a subtle story line, is more than made up by the music according to Troy.
“In the play “Amadeus,” Antonio Salieri remarks that you can hear the voice of God in Mozart’s music,” said Troy. “That statement is especially true in this opera.”
In addition to the stage and musical direction of Troy and Becker, the production features a set designed by Rich Frielund, associate professor of theatre arts and vocal coaching by Bonnie Koestner, assistant professor of music. The production also will include the contributions of two guest artists: Milwaukee area lighting designer Jason Fassl and costume designer Emily Rohm-Gilmore, ’02, of Naperville, Ill.
Tenor Steve Spears, assistant professor of music, will sing the romantic male lead role of Tamino, while sophomore Emily Fink of Neenah (Thursday) and senior Caitlin Cisler of Appleton (Friday, Sunday) will share the female lead role of Pamina.