The Magic Flute Review
By Daniel Cobb
November 1, 2013
What’s so magic about The Magic Flute? The answer is…well, a lot of things. It’s one of Mozart’s most recognizable operas and features some pieces that you have most definitely heard at one point or another if you have listened to any of this legendary composer’s works.
The Magic Flute focuses on a fairly large group of characters who are actually pretty easy to keep track of thanks to their portrayal on stage as well as their memorable dialogue. Yes, The Magic Flute is in fact a singspiel; there’s both spoken dialogue and singing. The story unfolds quickly as Prince Tamino is asked by the Queen of the Night to retrieve her daughter, Pamina, from the evil sorcerer Sarastro. Tamino is promised Pamina’s hand in marriage if he succeeds. Along the way, several characters are introduced and prove to be formidable allies or obstacles to Tamino’s quest.
These characters are portrayed wonderfully on stage. Papageno, played by Thomas Delgado, displays much humor through both his appearance and mannerisms as a happy bird catcher. Queen of the Night, played by Lory Lacy, is the opposite, having a very commanding presence in each scene that she appears in. But I sincerely applaud the entire cast for their performance as well as their great chemistry with each other.
The orchestra also does an admirable job of replicating Mozart’s work, although it did take some time for them to find their footing in the beginning. As for the characters on stage singing these songs, they were, for the most part, awesome. Yes, there were some slip ups here and there, and members of the choir and the children were too hard to hear. However, Dr. Susan Carter, the director of the play, wrote something in the playbill that I really appreciated regarding the singing.
“The Magic Flute includes dialogue and familiar melodies that are easy to sing and arias that are almost impossible to sing.”
She goes on to write that high “F’s” above high “C” as well as a low “F” are sung in the play, which is simply outrageous and a tremendous feat for the performers.
The background was also interesting as animations made especially for the show were projected onto it. The whole idea starts off promising, introducing the characters as well as the setting. However, with the exception of a few instances, it serves only to change the setting in a quick way while having a few moving objects, such as torches, in the background. It’s certainly impressive, don’t get me wrong, and there are some genuinely cool moments with it, especially in the beginning. However, the beginning scenes set up this dynamic background that’s constantly bustling with activity, and this just wasn’t the case with the rest of the opera. Still, it’s smart, and with more time, can drastically change how plays and musicals are performed at Missouri Western.
Another smart idea was projecting the lyrics for each song above the stage. However, the process ran into a few problems. Due to the lighting, it was very difficult to read. Furthermore, there were problems ranging from words being cut off to the wrong lyrics being projected altogether. Eventually, it was shut off for a time. Still, it’s a great idea that needed a few tweaks.
And that kind of sums up a few areas of The Magic Flute. There are some cool things happening here, but some of those things needed a bit more time to refine. Yet, the singing and surprisingly hilarious dialogue were more than enough to make the experience fun and entertaining.