Magazine article Opera Canada

Die Zauberflote

Magazine article Opera Canada

Die Zauberflote

Article excerpt

Mozart's Die Zauberflote is perfect for young voices, and the new production mounted for the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio was a sold-out winner (Dec. 16-20/05). William Schmuck's abstract modern set, with costumes that ran the gamut from Egypt to China, were gorgeous, as was Stephen Ross's atmospheric lighting that played off the fabric and plastic that anchored Schmuck's design. The look was a happy marriage of modernism and exotic Orientalism that spoke to the timelessness of Mozart's genius. The production filled the large MacMillan Theatre stage, but still allowed for the intimacy of character and relationships.

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Conductor Richard Bradshaw kept the score lively without sacrificing tender moments, finding both the sound and the fury as well as the thoughtful and reflective in Mozart's score. Famed British musicologist Andrew Porter was responsible for both the English translation and stage direction. This was a music-first production without tricks or guile, supported by a clever text that cut down on the talk in the singspiel to concentrate on the beloved arias and choral passages. The singers were front and centre.

The talented cast was made up of former, current and soon-to-be Ensemble members, plus a few young ringers. Roles were shared, which meant the off-nights fielded a very rich chorus of first-rate soloists. With so many roles, the singers got a chance to show their individual mettle. On the evening I attended, outstanding performances came from imposing soprano Joni Henson (the First Lady) and adorable baritone Justin Welsh (Papageno). …

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