Review: The Canadian Opera Company’s “The Magic Flute” from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (May 8, 11, 14, 17, 19, and 21, 2022)

It has been two long years since we have had an immersive opera experience that only the Canadian Opera Company can deliver. The time has come. The Canadian Opera Company welcomed back audiences with a warm heart last night with the opera fan favourite, “The Magic Flute” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

As I gazed upon the patrons, I noted some interesting things. The patrons looked excited. There were individuals with their partners, young families with children, single folks and seasoned opera goers. We were together again. The time was right.

“The Magic Flute” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was the perfect choice by the Canadian Opera Company to welcome patrons new and old back into their home. It is a fresh, funny and perfect mix of light dialogue and jovial music to put a smile onto your face. For seasoned opera goers, they were satiated with a classic piece of opera they knew very well. Like the lady sitting beside me last night who hummed throughout the first act. The young man sitting on the other side of me was still and watched every detail from the SURTITLES™, to the wardrobe, actors, orchestra pit and the glorious stage production. The audience was being taken care of. Care was slowly weaving itself into the room one second at a time as the music washed over the audience.

“The Magic Flute” wove in themes of wisdom, truth, and love from the outset. Turkish-born, Austria-based tenor, Ilker Arcayürek, stars as Tamino and bass-baritone Gordon Bintner as Papageno. These two gentlemen commanded a decadent stage presence. Arcayürek provided the heartbeat to the operatic piece while Bintner loosened the mood with a delicate balance of humour and passion. Tamino and Papageno invited the audience on their journey as they travelled to rescue the kidnapped Princess Pamina played by soprano, Anna-Sophie Neher. Neher contributed a soft elegance throughout the performance while also asserting her role as heroine.

The concept of “the play within a play” challenged the audience to bear witness to what the characters were experiencing in the moment. Soprano Midori Marsh plays Papagena whose colourful exchange with Papageno injected hope into the piece. Tenor, Michael Colvin, plays Monostatos, who’s talent astounds. Sopranos, Jamie Groote and Charlotte Siegel, and mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal played the First Lady, Second, Lady and Third Lady. These three individuals are the best kept secret of the production. They embodied everything that makes “The Magic Flute” the most exquisite piece of opera through their demonstration of humour, confidence and a certain girl power. Norwegian soprano Caroline Wettergreen made her COC main stage debut as the iconic Queen of the Night. Wettergreen should be the reason that you make opera a piece of homework once you leave the performance. Wettergreen’s performance is flawless and provided the audience with a nod to grace and greatness.  Canadian Director, Anna Theodosakis is joined by acclaimed set and costume designer Myung Hee Cho, whom paints the audience with a pop- up portrait of the place and time. The audience gets lost in a lush maze which symbolizes the passage from death to re-birth, as well as the cyclical progression from night to day. Lush long dresses, tight bodices, cardboard cut-outs of giraffes, zebras and bird in cages continue to lighten the mood and conjures memories of childhood story books inked in fairytale. Lighting designer Scott Zielinski illustrates the mysteries of the outdoor world beneath the cover of night where the characters act out the rituals of the drama.

German conductor Patrick Lange returns to the COC, leading the COC Orchestra through Mozart’s whimsical Singspiel. Price Family Chorus Master Sandra Horst guides the COC Chorus.

I encourage you to make time to see the Canadian Opera Company’s production of “The Magic Flute” in the weeks that follow (May 8, 11, 14, 17, 19, and 21, 2022). It is a transformative experience and will soothe your heart and soul.

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