If you saw BARN OPERA's treatment of "Carmen" in May, you'll probably be a little hesitant to bring your youngster to the opera. However, allow me an analogy to put your mind at ease: if Carmen was "Kubrickian" then BARN OPERA's production of The Magic Flute will be pure Disney.
I knew what I wanted to do with Carmen when I chose to produce the opera, but in knowing that, I similarly knew that I needed to follow it with a much more light-hearted and family friendly production that would not have even a hint of adult theme, but would be whimsical, funny, and family oriented, while maintaining the quality that you have come to expect from BARN OPERA.
To that end, I have found some of the best singing actors in the country to come to Brandon to perform the leading roles. Alongside such established artists as Spencer Viator (Tamino), Jessica Jane Jacobs (Pamina), Scott Ballantine (Papageno), Andrea Wozniak (Papagena), Wes Hunter (Monostatos) Luke Scott (Sarastro), and Heather Bobeck (The Queen of the Night), there will be teenagers from the Vermont Youth Opera Workshop performing the roles of the "Spirits" as well as children from Neshobe Elementary School in Brandon performing as their favorite animal.
The educational opportunity that comes from children not just being exposed to, but being involved in high quality art, is invaluable! Likewise, the emerging artists being given an example of where they could be in a few years, while being mentored by the group of established artists is nothing if not motivating. The inclusivity and the multigenerational approach to this show is the driving force behind my casting decisions and concept design.
When one thinks of The Magic Flute one basically immediately hums the Queen of the Night's SECOND aria (Yes, she has another one before that one, which is equally as virtuosic!) "Der Hölle Rache." Like most operas, most people don't know the story, but know that the music is absolutely entrancing, and fabulous.
For those of you that don't know the story, the first scene of the opera witnesses a heroic prince slay a dragon, who eventually goes on a quest to rescue a princess from an evil sorcerer.
I thought to myself, as I was reading a story to my 3 year old daughter, "this would make a fabulous bedtime story!" So I sought to try to see if the concept of the opera being a bedtime story would work. I have incorporated a secondary plot point - which I won't disclose here, you'll have to come see the show! - that will help to keep the plot moving forward without much of the traditional dialogue that is typical of the "singspiel" - music with dialogue - that The Magic Flute is.
As with many of the operas of the 18th and 19th centuries, we have to grapple with the fact that there are themes of heroism that today would be looked at as misogyny, and classism and racism that are completely inappropriate to present today. If you know me in person, or even by reputation, you will know that neither of those themes, either presented then or now, is something I will allow on my stage.
As I said, I have 3 and 1 year old daughters, Liliana and Chloë, who I want to grow up and know that with enough dedication and work they can do anything that they want to do, without the fact that they are women holding her back. The idea of the princess needing a prince to rescue her is terrifically antiquated, but presented in the right light, it can be almost charming and nostalgic - especially when it happens occasionally that the prince is the one needing saving.
We will be presenting the Andrew Porter translation of the opera from 1984, but as things are quite a bit different now, I have omitted some of the more blatantly offensive and culturally insensitive language of Mr. Porter, have rewritten the rather dated and stilted dialogue in its entirety, and in true Collier fashion, added some topical and contemporary jokes.
With such glorious music, comical situations, kid-friendly play, and heartwarming story, I am thrilled to present this multi-faceted production of The Magic Flute to the BARN OPERA Audience! As always, I welcome any feedback/comments/requests for programming, and I hope to see you all for BARN OPERA's unique and BRANDON NEW production of The Magic Flute!
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