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BWW Review: SONGS FROM THE SANTA FE OPERA at Home Computer Screens

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BWW Review: SONGS FROM THE SANTA FE OPERA at Home Computer Screens

On Saturday Evening, July 11, at 7:00PM Mountain time, Santa Fe Opera presented its online celebration of Mozart's The Magic Flute. The opera would have premiered in the 63-year-old New Mexico company's elegant open-air theater if COVID-19 had not caused the cancellation of the season. A recording of the overture from 2010, a drive through the grounds, and the beginning of a sunset reminded watchers of the glory that was and will again be The Santa Fe Opera.

Host Anthony Michaels-Moore greeted watchers from all over the globe who would normally be in attendance at the premiere of The Magic Flute. Sporting a bright red bow tie and holding a stein of dark brew, he invited opera lovers to enjoy a libation while listening to both informational and musical selections. On the table next to him were a flute and a set of bells, both endued with magic powers, of course.

Dramaturg Cori Ellison told of the various styles Mozart incorporated into this opera. Papageno sings in the happy-go-lucky singspiel style, but the Queen of the Night is straight out of opera seria. Tamino and Pamina sing in a lyrical style, while the choruses sing Masonic hymns, and Monostatos' music is reminiscent of Turkish Janissaries.

Michaels-Moore then introduced baritone Benjamin Taylor who had recorded a rousing version of Papageno's aria, "Der Vogelfanger bin ich ja." Taylor was to have sung the role of the bird catcher had COVID-19 not interfered. His video began as he brushed his teeth, drank coffee and continued as he sang the aria while energetically chasing both birds and Papagena. He sang with resonant, bronzed tones that glinted with copper highlights as he reached into his upper register.

The next musical selection was "Die Hölle rache," the aria in which the Queen of the Night tries in vain to convince her daughter, Pamina, to kill Sarastro. In a clip from a previous performance of the planned Santa Fe production, Heather Buck sang the aria with silvery tones while Natalie Dessay portrayed the completely overwhelmed Pamina.

The finale of the program was supplied by soprano Joelle Harvey singing and accompanying herself on the piano from her home in Virginia. Her rendition of "Ach, ich fühls," brought forth the fullness of emotion that only a fine opera performance can render. Her legato was as smooth as whipped creme and her dynamics spectacular, especially at the end of the aria.

Although only a half hour in length, this online program gave opera lovers the wonderful feeling of being in Santa Fe again and it reminded them that they will be back there again as soon as the pandemic is over.

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From This Author Maria Nockin