Mozart’s The Magic Flute is a whimsical fantasy opera that follows the journey of Prince Tamino as he sets forth on a journey through a strange land to rescue Princess Pamina from the sinister Sarastro. With a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder and music by Mozart, this particular two-act opera has proven itself to be an enduring classic. The Magic Flute has a little bit of something for everyone including humor, romance, and adventure. Director Corinne Hayes and conductor Craig Kier joined to make this Annapolis Opera production, its brief run now ended, a fun-filled must-see.
Amazingly, two of the leads—Brian Wallin as Tamino and Kyle White as Papageno—stepped in at the last moment due to an outbreak of COVID among the cast. With only three rehearsals under their belts, Wallin and White put their best professional foot forward and turned in great performances. White’s clean baritone shone through for Papageno—the more comedic role of the two. Wallin’s warm tenor lent itself well to portraying the plight of Tamino.
It has been a strength of the Annapolis Opera that they continue to attract such a talented cast of singers. For a smaller company, they produce work of a quality comparable to the larger local outfits. Emily Misch’s clear soprano and tight control were showcased during “Der Hölle Rache”—the famous Queen of the Night aria. Bass Matthew Curran also lent his rich voice to the imposing Sarastro. Of note were the First Lady (Adia Evans), Second Lady (Jazmine Olwalia), and the Third Lady (Quinn Middleman), whose strong voices carried much of the humor in the first act. Some of the acting throughout left a bit to be desired, but hey, this is an opera, and it’s secondary to the strength of the singing.
Production manager and scenery/lighting designer Chris Brusberg joined forces with scenery and productions designer Peter Leibold to create the setting for the world of The Magic Flute. For a story firmly grounded in fantasy, this is a bit of a tall order. They relied heavily on projections, and this particular venture was successful. It allowed for much more complex effects than would normally be seen in a production of this size. Also of note was wardrobe supervisor Sharlene Clinton, whose costumes seemed to draw from a shiny, disco-like late ’70s palette. This was impressive during the scenes in the temple with the full chorus. The Queen of the Night’s costumes were especially eye-catching and her feathered, black headpiece would make any fashionista envious.
Director Corrine Hayes made a good show out of the limiting stage in Maryland Hall. The blocking of the characters followed a clear line of action and utilized the space in a way that made the company seem much larger than it is at times. Accompanied by a talented orchestra, conductor Craig Kier made sure that Mozart’s energetic score was appreciated by the audience and shone through.
The Magic Flute at the Annapolis Opera was a fun, humorous classic sure to delight longtime opera fans and newbies alike. If you are in the Annapolis area and have been considering checking out a production, I highly recommend Annapolis Opera. They have more productions coming up in their season, including Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied and Elbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. I expect they will carry forward the charming qualities of The Magic Flute.
Running Time: Two hours and 40 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.
The Magic Flute played October 27 and 29, 2023, presented by the Annapolis Opera at Maryland Hall, 801 Chase St, Annapolis, MD. Information and tickets for upcoming productions can be found at annapolisopera.org.
The program for The Magic Flute is online here.
COVID Safety: The Annapolis Opera is currently following the COVID-19 safety policy of Maryland Hall. Masks are encouraged for all performances but are optional inside the building and theaters. Seating is at full capacity and not socially distanced unless otherwise specified in the event description.