The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


‘The Magic Flute’ mystifies audiences

Courtesy of the AT&T Performing Arts Center

(Courtesy of the AT&T Performing Arts Center)

Dallas Opera’s recent production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte” (“The Magic Flute”) truly is opera for the masses. Resplendent with entertaining and surprising special effects, a high level of musicianship and a tasteful and appropriate storybook milieu, Dallas Opera’s production is sure to please audiences of any age.

Today, it is all too easy to think of opera as an elitist art form that is inaccessible to the common man. However, in Mozart’s day, opera buffa, or comic opera, was a genre of opera that served as entertainment to a burgeoning Enlightenment middle class. Some comic operas were similar to our slapstick comedies with cheesy acting, predictable plots and raunchy humor. “The Magic Flute” has a combination of comic and serious elements that make the plot and heroic characters compelling, but keeps the overall feel of comedy throughout the opera.

In brief, the opera is a fairytale love story. Tamino, a prince, meets the Queen of the Night, whose daughter was taken prisoner by the evil Sarastro. With the help of his comically incapable sidekick, Papageno, Tamino rescues and falls in love with the Queen’s daughter, Pamina. Meanwhile, Papageno finds a girl named Papagena.

However, the characters quickly realize that Sarastro is actually the good figure. In a series of tests, Tamino and Papageno prove themselves honorable and strong, and the opera ends happily with the Queen banished to hell and the main characters reunited with their lovers.

Shawn Mathey plays a capable and endearing Tamino. His voice handles melismatic passages with ease, though he sounded slightly forced on occasion. He is convincingly brave and certainly looks the part of a prince. Patrick Carfizzi is a natural as Papageno. Carfizzi consistently has the audience in stitches, and he sings Papageno’s comic arias with panache.

L’ubica Vargicova plays the Queen of the Night. The role is notorious for its difficulty. The Queen is only on stage for a small amount of time, but every appearance is brutally high with angular melismas. Vargicova’s coloratura is impressive and clear, though her voice thins towards the top of her range, and she couldn’t quite get the high notes in her famous aria. Ava Pine is charming and endearing as Pamina. She displays remarkable control in dynamic. Raymond Aceto’s Sarasto is stoically benevolent and strong. Aceto’s voice is consistently rich and impressive.

Surprisingly, the three ladies, who attend the Queen of the Night, sung by Caitlin Lynch, Lauren McNeese and Maya Lahyani are both entertainingly funny and musically adept. The trio nearly always sing in unison rhythms, which presents the danger of ensemble problems if a singer is slightly ahead or behind the others. But Dallas Opera’s ladies were perfectly together and in tune the entire performance. Angel Mannino played her role as Papagena well.

The carefully choreographed staging in this production adds to the performance. The three ladies are staged in a detailed manner that enhances their individual characters. In addition, the production is lush with special effects. Flowers pop out of the stage, characters shoot flames from their hands, ships fly overhead and water spouts from a moving stone lion.

The orchestra, normally strictly omitted from a drama, plays a role in the opera.

When Papageno is running away in fear, he is blocked by on stage explosions. Finally, he runs toward the orchestra pit, where he is greeted by a flurry of raised bows and a collective “zurück” (“back”). The orchestra played well, although a few exposed sections in the violins were slightly out of tune on opening night.

Overall, Dallas Opera’s “The Magic Flute” is highly entertaining. Opera purists might be offended by the production’s flaunting of convention, but I’m quite certain that Mozart would be pleased with Dallas Opera’s interpretation.

After all, The Magic Flute was meant to be a fun opera.

There isn’t any reason to miss this production. On Saturday Dallas Opera is broadcasting the performance to the Dallas Cowboys Stadium on the world’s largest HD screen. Tickets and parking are free. Otherwise, students can get best available rush tickets for $25 and $50. 

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