If you think opera is an acquired taste, think again. ASU’s Lyric Opera Theatre says a new production of “The Magic Flute” is perfect for the novice palate.
“Most people hear the word ‘opera,’ and they get scared. The perception of opera is that it is sung by stuffy people with horns on their head that stand on stage and sing at people,” said Dale Dreyfoos, stage director and associate artistic director of Lyric Opera Theatre.
He added while that stereotype is still pervasive, “if you like musicals, you should like operas as well.”
Fighting that perception has been a lifelong battle for Dreyfoos, who began his performing career at the age of 10 in the Atlanta Boys Choir. A year later, he saw a performance of “The Magic Flute” and was “hooked on opera.”
Formed in 1964, Lyric Opera Theatre’s mission is to prepare opera and musical theatre artists for professional careers. Through individual and classroom instruction, the production of operas and musicals, student-led workshops and community engagement, ASU is working to help maintain the art form.
Hailed as one of Mozart’s greatest musical masterpieces, the 200-year-old fairytale blends magic, mystery and humor with themes of love and good versus evil.
“It’s funny, fast-paced, full of surprises, plus the music is heavenly,” said Brian DeMaris, music director and artistic director of Lyric Opera Theatre. “The characters connect with the audience right away.”
The multi-media opera is double cast, features more than 100 students and crew members, and runs nearly three hours.
“The Magic Flute” will be sung in German with English dialogue, and features “Der Holle Rache,” one of the most famous and ambitious arias in all of opera. Soprano Lauren Berman, who portrays the Queen of the Night, will perform the 2-minute vocal pyrotechnic on Friday and Sunday.
“It’s definitely a difficult aria,” said Berman, who is currently working on her doctorate in vocal performance. “I can tell if I haven’t had a good night’s sleep or have been over singing, because if I’m not at the top of my game, I can’t get through it. I’ve never had a role like this.”
The show also has its fair share of laughs, provided mostly by Papageno, a simple bird-catcher who yearns for a girlfriend and a glass of wine.
“Even though the story is close to 200 years old, the story, the issues and the characters are still the same as today,” said Nathan Haltiwanger, a first-year master’s student studying Opera Performance and one of two students who plays Papageno. “We feel we’ve made this opera more approachable in many ways.”
A lot of work goes into an opera production said Miriam Schildkret, a voice performance major who plays the Third Lady.
“If you’re not sweating at the end, you’re not doing it right,” Schildkret said.
“The Magic Flute” starts Thursday at Tempe’s Evelyn Smith Music Theatre and runs through Sunday. For more event information, including a link to buy tickets, click here.
Top photo: Sarastro's slave Monostatos, played by Ted Zimnicki, discloses his intention to force himself upon Pamina while she sleeps in ASU Lyric Opera Theatre's production of "The Magic Flute." Photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU Now.