Children's `Magic Flute' keeps Mozart's essence in music and story line


Arundel Live

May 23, 2002|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Baltimore Opera performed Die Zauberflote ("The Magic Flute") in December, but I was reluctant to risk $85 on a ticket for my 10-year-old granddaughter. Given the option, Marie might decide to leave at intermission.

But at $5 a ticket, the Annapolis Opera Company-sponsored children's version of the Mozart classic was a gamble worthy of taking.

As it turned out, Marie chose to stay for the entire show - and even told her friends she'd enjoyed the experience.

Every season, the Annapolis Opera Company sponsors operas by Peabody Conservatory's Roundabout Theater that are designed to introduce children to the world of opera.

Tickets for weekend performances at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts are $5 each for parents as well as children. Other performances are held there on weekdays for area public schools.

This season, Peabody Conservatory's crew, with two different casts, gave several Maryland Hall performances of The Man Who Would Be Papageno, an original children's version of The Magic Flute.

What made this one-hour opera for children so attractive was the sensitivity and skill of Roger Brunyate, artistic director of Peabody Opera.

"We've been touring shows around area schools and similar venues for about eight years now," Brunyate said. "In general, we have tried to present condensed versions of complete operas, for many years Hansel and Gretel and, new this year, The Magic Flute, which I adapted, wrote the dialogue for and translated the lyrics.

"The main requirement is to make a coherent story running just under an hour that preserves as much of the music as possible and to present it in a way that is comprehensible for children by telling the story through the eyes of Papageno, who is oblivious to things not taking place under his nose - a most convenient device."

Brunyate more than met his goal. Nonessential characters were cut, but the essence remained in all the fun and the glorious melodies that make this Flute truly magic.

All arias were well-sung by young singers, including Israel Lozano, who earned praise for his Arturo in Baltimore Opera's Lucia di Lammermoor. In this tailored Papageno version, Monostatos sang his entire role, and the Three Ladies sang most of theirs.

In Brunyate's version, the arias are mostly complete, merely shortened. The First Lady played the Queen of the Night, delivering her treacherous coloratura aria, and the Second Lady also played Papagena, Papageno's love.

The opera was directed by Jennifer Blades, a Peabody alumna. Part-time faculty member Patti McEwan Amato prepared the music.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.