“The Magic Flute” is the love story of Prince Tamino and the Princess Pamina, who has been abducted from her mother, the Queen of the Night, by her father, Sarastro, a priest of the cult of Isis and Osiris in ancient Egypt.
Serious Prince Tamino (tenor Shawn Mathey) and his everyman sidekick Papageno (baritone Patrick Carfizzi) – who wishes for no more from life than a wife and Lone Star beer – enter the trials of Sarastro (bass Raymond Aceto) to prove themselves worthy of love. Tamino is given the magic flute by the Three Ladies of the Queen of the Night (soprano L'Ubica Vargicova), and Papageno is helped by her enchanted silver bells, which convert enemies into dancing fools. Thwarted by the green monster of Sarastro, Monostatos (tenor David Cangelosi), Tamino and Papageno enter the underworld and endure silence and starvation until they are reunited with Pamina (soprano Ava Pine). The Three Genii (trios of local teens Karen Wemhoener, Zoe Moore and Mollie Meril on April 20, 25, 26 and Katie King, Emmie Arduno and Abby Lysinger on April 22, May 4, 6) strive to inspire and help Tamino and Pamina stay the course of their journey. The prince and princess survive the trials of fire, water, air and earth to emerge as blessed followers of Osiris and Isis.
Mozart wrote “The Magic Flute” as a populist opera, designed to be understandable by the common man – the sitcom of the late 1800s. Premiered in Vienna in 1791, it is an easy-to-grasp opera, even sung in German. With many laugh-out-loud moments and a boisterous score, it is the perfect production to introduce young adults to the joys of opera.
As pure escapist entertainment, “The Magic Flute” is still imbued with morality as Tamino searches for wisdom and to be worthy of love. Mozart fearlessly explores faithfulness and what it means to be a man, even when confronted by the temptations of women. Tamino is tested by Sarastro and his brotherhood to emerge worthy of his princess, as Pamina is also tested to be at his side. It is the story of good triumphing over evil, even at the cost of a likely death. Mozart’s freemasonry roots and the secret societies of his era are showcased as working for the good of humanity and the conversion of enemies into harmonious friends. Mozart’s lighthearted treatment of serious goals makes for a rollicking and fantastical opera.
The production is as ornate as its storyline, with fearsome beasts costumed as well-loved stuffed animals, a flying boat piloted by ephemeral Genii, and spectacularly colorful sets. The deep bass of Sarastro and impressive coloratura singing of the Queen of the Night are quintessential operatic moments.
The supporting cast includes The Speaker (bass Kevin Langan), Papagena (soprano Angela Mannino), and the Three Ladies (Caitlyn Lynch, Lauren McNeese and Maya Lahyani), who derail all of Tamino and Papageno’s good intentions, and two Men in Armor (Aaron Blake – who also shines in the role of the Second Priest – and Darren Stokes) who guard the temple of wisdom.
The Dallas Opera performs “The Magic Flute” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on the weekends of April 25, 28 and May 4 and 6 at the Winspear Opera House. Sung in German, with English titles.