It's been a long time since a major-city opera company has performed live on stage in State College. On Thursday evening, the wait is over.
Toronto's Opera Atelier brings its heralded production of Mozart's The Magic Flute to Penn State's Eisenhower Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. April 18. Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, a period-instrument ensemble that wowed a Center for the Performing Arts audience Tuesday with its multimedia concert House of Dreams, provides live music for The Magic Flute.
Mozart's final and most beloved opera is set in an imaginary ancient Egypt and tells the tale of prince out to rescue the daughter of a queen. The Baroque-style comedic opera also features stories within stories—plus a 12-foot dragon.
Tickets are still available for the April 18 presentation.
The company performed the production at home in Toronto last week before bringing it to the United States. The reviews in Canada were enthusiastic.
"Opera Atelier has created a production that succeeds masterfully. … By returning The Flute to its own time, it brings Mozart to life in a very modern way," writes Robert Harris in The (Toronto) Globe and Mail. "To Opera Atelier's credit, they have brought [The Magic Flute] off superbly."
Marshall Pynkoski, co-artistic director of Opera Atelier and director of The Magic Flute, says his adaptation is a fantasy popular with people of all ages, including children.
"Everyone is saying it—where does the next generation of opera lovers come from?," he notes. "It really is important that opera companies develop productions that will have a real appeal to a younger audience and a new audience—people attending opera for the first time—and you don't want to intimidate them."
The performance is all the more accessible because it's performed in English with English supertitles.
"Mozart's music is timeless and Pynkoski's kinetic staging entertaining enough to keep even some children who were sitting near me giggling through much of the action," observes John Terauds for Musical Toronto. "To have it so well sung is icing on a tasty cake.'
The opera features dance choreographed by Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg, the co-artistic director of Opera Atelier.
Watch a video in which Pynkoski talks about what makes Opera Atelier's version of The Magic Flute so special.
Hear a WPSU FM report about the production. It features comments from Pynkoski and Zingg.
The performances by the two internationally acclaimed Toronto companies are part of the second season of the Center for the Performing Arts' three-year Classical Music Project.
"Opera is a living art form whose themes of love, loss, hope and sorrow resonate through the ages. The stories of its character touch us today as they did centuries ago," says Marica Tacconi, Penn State professor of musicology and faculty leader for the curriculum and academic components of the Classical Music Project. "Yet it is also important to understand that individual operas—like other works of art—are part of a cultural and social context that had an effect on their creators. Opera Atelier brings passion, vitality and impeccable artistry to their operatic performances."
Audio description, which is especially helpful for people with sight loss, is available for the performance at no extra charge to ticket holders.
Artistic Viewpoints, a moderated discussion featuring Gerard Gauci, who designed the set, is offered in Eisenhower one hour before performance and is free for ticket holders. Seating for Artistic Viewpoints is limited.