BWW Reviews: Local Baritone Enlivens KC Lyric Opera's Smart New Production of THE MAGIC FLUTE
The Lyric Opera of Kansas City, along with the Kansas City Ballet, is on a roll. Since the dazzling new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts opened its doors two years ago, both companies have been presenting ever more exciting and significant works.
Before the Kauffman Center, co-productions with the likes of the San Francisco Opera seemed unthinkable, but now, the Lyric Opera has teamed with that company to present a new vision of THE MAJIC FLUTE, currently running through the end of the week.
Full of simple, bright and angular costumes and onstage projections by visual artist Jun Kaneko, the production features baritone and Kansas CitIan Daniel Belcher singing the role of Papageno. Belcher, a regular on international opera stages around the world, talked recently about the role.
"It's the second time I've been at the Kauffman-the first was NIXON IN CHINA [another San Francisco Opera co-production]. It's a fantastic cast and the production I think is really going to be something special for this public-it will be definitely unlike anything they've seen, and the cool thing is it really tests the technical abilities of the new hall and what the company can do as well. So it's exciting, it's definitely a period of growth and stretching and this production will definitely be a test of that..."
And while Belcher naturally enjoys a traditional repertoire (he's sung Papageno more than a dozen times), he talked about a special fondness for new music. "I think I premiered seven or eight roles, and then actually through 2017 I have five more world premiers coming up. And, no, it wasn't a conscious choice necessarily.
"There's a reason I love to do all these new pieces...I love working with new composers, just to go and ask them at the break, 'So why did you do this phrase like this? Is there any way we can alter this?'"
In 2010, the Belcher recording of L'AMOUR DE LOIN, a contemporary piece by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho won the Grammy award for Best Opera Recording. Belcher spoke about his work with Saariaho.