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Subject: Canadian Opera's Magic Flute flowers for the most part (2-3-16)
From: Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 4 Feb 2017 16:58:04 -0500

text/plain (59 lines)

>     My weekend in Toronto started with the Die Zauberflote or The Magic Flute in a production from 2011 by Tony award-winning director Diane Paulus. The costumes were beautiful the set magnificent and the basic concept started off brilliantly; unfortunately, as is often the case, Act II really began to drag even with all of the hedges moving around constantly.
>     Pamina  	  	Kirsten MacKinnon
>     Tamino 	  	Owen McCausland
>     Papageno 	  	Phillip Addis
>     Queen of the Night  	  	Ambur Braid
>     Sarastro  	  	Matt Boehler
>     Monostatos 	  	Michael Colvin
>     Speaker 	  	Martin Gantner
>     First Lady    	  	Aviva Fortunata
>     Second Lady 	  	Emily D’Angelo
>     Third Lady  	  	Lauren Segal
>     Papagena   	  	Jacqueline Woodley
>     Conductor:   	  	Bernard Labadie
>     Director: 	  	Diane Paulus
>     Revival Director: 	  	Ashlie Corcoran
>     Set Designer and
>     Costume Designer: 	  	Myung Hee Cho
>     Lighting Designer: 	  	Scott Zielinski
>     Chorus Master: 	  	Sandra Horst
>     The Overture began and the curtain show green arbors across the top of the stage and three large rectangular greenhedges left and right which stayed in the same positions for the first act. There were six eight-foot-tall or higher candelabras being lit by servants and stagehands. A small stage was at the center rear with a curtain hanging down saying Die Zauberflote. We soon realize that we are at a garden party apparently being thrown by the Sarastro for his ward Pamina at which he will be performing and opera for her.
>     The various cast members enter including the three spirits on horse tricycles as well as the Sarastro in a flowing floor-length silk robe with undergarments of white. Tamino enters in a long blue cutaway also over white and Monastatos is in a leathery black get-up.
>     Pamina looks gorgeous in a sky blue Grecian gown with an overhanging flowy gray drape. The queen enters in a long black silvery cape with a studded breastplate and a large hood over her head; Sarastro kisses her hand coldly.
>     The small stage moves forward and the opera itself begins with a three headed dragon costume with large yellow wings being worn by one man who causes the viewing audience of servants to shriek at first. A couple of two dimensional rocks are scattered on the stage. The three ladies arrived in long black braided hair with black rim glasses looking a bit Goth with leathery outfits and studs. They were quite funny at times  actually going out into the audience and sitting on one guest's lap. At one point Tamino awakens and sees them and thanks again. 
>     Papageno arrives in a long striped jacket with huge tail feathers and feathery shoulders as well as a bowler hat with feathers. He is carrying a long pole with three cages containing fake birds. Mr. Addis, who I have not heard in almost a decade since a brilliant portrayal in Fort Worth's Of Mice and Men, did an admirable job in his opening aria. When the three ladies return one of them smashes one of the cages over his head and then padlocks it, which did get a lot of laughs.
>     Mr. McCausland's Dies Bildnes was remarkably sweet and memorable and it was extremely touching that pamina was sitting in the audience in a spotlight. However as soon as Tamino spots her Sarastro kisses her hand and has her removed; clearly required for her impending arrival in the following scene.
>     O Zittre Nacht has our queen against a dark blue dome light background with tons of stars as she arrives in a huge cape with her black feathery crown towering over her head. Her opening slow section was exquisite and as she points at Sarastro and says "an evil man" he gets up and leaves in a huff. The ensuing fast section did suffer slightly, spunding almost jazzy and the final High F (?)seemed to be a bit off to me.
>     The three boys return on their adorable horse tricycles and are now wearing tall golden hats and red capes as they lead the duo off.
>     Monastatos has on a turban with ears and a long rat's tail attached to his leather outfit. I adore Bei Mannern and here the duet was simply luscious.
>     The scene changed and we had three two dimensional doors from which the speaker came out in a long red and gold outfit with a very tall red fez. He also had a curly grey beard the kind of reminded me of the Mesopotamian kings. It was quasi Masonic yet somehow ancient.
>     For Tamino's scene with the animals there were small dancers or supers and children in what seemed to be paper animal costumes that were quite fascinating including a giraffe, horse and two elephants.
>     Sarastro appears in a floor-length gold lame outfit with long bell-shaped sleeves as well as a long golden curly beard but what really amazed me was Mr Boehler's low note on "doch" which truly reminded me what a brilliant bass he is; again it has been way too long since my last hearing his voice. He too had a tall golden double pointed hat with a giant sunburst on it which was quite impressive and added to his six foot eight inch stature even more.
>     Act II is where Flute can get to be a bore and here we had a complete set change to a garden of green hedges which formed an almost mesmerizing maze. The arbor walls now had a grand gate at the center and Sarastro and his men have bright flame torches (lucky they didn't burn those long beards!). Tamino is escorted through the gates, but Pamina is blocked.
>     For the men's ensemble where some kind of silly Masonic moves are often invented, the men simply kneeled, but during this the servants were mimicking them and got plenty of laughs; I liked it.  Two sphinxes were pushed on for the dark setting with the first trial, and we began to wade our way through what can be agiantn unending trial. I love Flute, but this gets draggy.  Mr. Colvin's Monastatos was okay, but I missed some sliminess; it was almost a bit funny. The Queen returned and was much better here with clarion high notes.
>     "Im diesen heilegen halle" was excellent and then oddly Sarastro took his beard off and sat down with Pamina in a kind of heart to heart father to daughter moment; it was sympathetic for sure. I also noticed here that the three spirits now had long beards as well (had I missed this?). The arbors and hedges moved and moved at a dizzying pace indeed and Papageno did his number with six servant girls that he kept poking at perhaps a bit too oversexually.
>     The fire trial had beautifully red draped girls with glitter and lit candles flickering on 2D like rocks. The water guys were even better in blue with smoke and giant umbrella like lit splays that they carried on poles over their long blue floor length coats.
>     The "Papageno/Papagena" duet is always cuted of course things to start move so fast it's over in seconds.
>     Here the bad guys all returned to the stage as if the entire thing was a play, but the second act really wasn't, or had they play become reality..or am I meandering????
>     Whatever, it was a fun evening for the most part, with pretty damn good singing and a production that just really needs a little tweaking.
>     Tomorrow-Gotterdammerung!
>     Alan J Savada,CTC
>     Frosch Travel Washington
>     Please excuse any voice recognition made them!
>     Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S® 6, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

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