MetroWest Opera presents “The Magic Flute” with a boarding school twist

by Erin Huelskamp on May 2, 2010

Who here likes Harry Potter? Dead Poets Society? This past weekend added Mozart’s The Magic Flute to this boarding school list-o-fun. According to the program note by stage director Adam McLean, this production featured the fantastical story of The Magic Flute via a 1920s boarding school. Performed in English, this production of the well-known piece pulled the opera away from its fantasy nature. The Magic Flute in and of itself is a quintessential fairy tale. There’s a prince, princess, sidekick and his love interest; deception, monkey minions, magical weapons in the form of a flute and bells, an evil queen, and good wizard. Just add a little music and comedy and BOOM you’ve got instant fantasy in the form of opera. This boarding school setting detracted from the mystical nature of the show; the concept didn’t quite fit. I found myself wondering, despite knowing the story well, why certain events were taking place and how certain characters fit into the world on the stage. What should this bold theatrical choice lend to the themes of the opera and how should it enhance my understanding of the music and story? There seemed to be a disconnect.

I did, however, enjoy seeing the characters of the opera reinvented into school kids, and everyone knows that in a boarding school setting, school uniforms are an absolute must. One of the most entertaining aspects of this production was the costumes by Katherine O’Neill. While only quasi-period 1920s, they were playful and fun, displaying strong splashes of yellow and blue with schoolgirl skirts, knee-high socks and flat Mary Jane shoes.

In terms of individual performers, Rob Woodin stole the show with his hilarious portrayal of Papageno in quest of food, happiness, and, of course, his very own Papagena; his comical timing was impeccable, and his well-placed voice a true pleasure. Every time Woodin stepped on stage I found myself chuckling at Papageno’s antics. Erin Smith’s voice sparkled with beauty in her portrayal of Pamina, and Sean Malkus is clearly at his best when singing Mozart; his voice shimmered with resonance as Tamino. Adam Boyles, music director, led the orchestra valiantly; the wind players especially stood out as a pleasure to hear.

Catch the final show May 2 @ 7:30pm, $22, Weston Town Hall Theater (11 Town House Road, Weston)

1 Audience Member May 4, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Thanks for the review… Any chance you could elaborate a little more on how the rest of the cast performed?

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