The Magic Flute: Show Preview

Artistic Director Dale Johnson chooses repertoire, performers, conductors, directors, designers, and leads all aspects of artistic planning.

What can be said about Mozart’s The Magic Flute that has not already been said? It is one of the great operas of the 18th century; one of the most beloved comedies in the operatic repertoire; a piece written by one of the great composers, working in his most original and beguiling style; and a surprising piece when measured by all traditional standards.

The Magic Flute was premiered in 1791 at the Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna. Mozart, at the end of his short life, experienced an extraordinary explosion of creativity. In addition to The Magic Flute, he composed the opera seria, La clemenza di Tito, and the Requiem. He had fallen out of favor with the aristocracy and took on a commission from Emanuel Schikaneder to set his libretto to music. It was a different kind of “opera,” although Mozart was
quite comfortable with composing a Singspiel. That we are still going to see this extraordinary mash up of comedy slapstick, romantic fantasy, Masonic traditions of the time and a foreshadowing of the great German operas of the 19th century, culminating with Wagner’s epics, is an amazing testament to the genius that is Mozart.

After more than 200 years of astounding productions of The Magic Flute, what new ideas can we possibly have? In the fall of 2012, my colleague Floyd Anderson and I were having breakfast with British artist agent Robert Guilder. He told us he had just experienced the best production of Flute he had ever seen. He gave us a link to the website of Komische Oper Berlin where it was currently playing. My jaw dropped at the incredible visual delights of this production, the brainchild of Komische Oper’s Barrie Kosky, in collaboration with British avant-garde theater company 1927. I decided on the spot to bring this brilliant concept to the United States.

In November, we will be treated to a production that has been influenced by the silent movies of the 1920s. Director Suzanne Andrade and animator Paul Barritt have taken in such cinematic influences as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu as well as the animation of Max Fleischer. Louise Brooks in the 1929 film Pandora’s Box was also factored into this new production.

All of the animation was hand drawn and then animated by Mr. Barritt. It is slow, painstaking work but the result is a riot of images that will surely delight you. The singers interact with the animation in a wonderful way. They become part of this visual feast. I didn’t believe anything new could be said about The Magic Flute, but I have been proven wrong. Do not miss this groundbreaking, fresh and extraordinary production of Mozart’s classic.


Dale Johnson

Artistic Director


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