Opera Philadelphia's THE MAGIC FLUTE Comes to the Academy, 4/19-28


The path to wisdom has never been so whimsical! Opera Philadelphia casts a spell on audiences this spring with a colorful production of The Magic Flute. Mozart's masterpiece of good versus evil and the search for true love runs in five performances at the Academy of Music, April 19-28, 2013. Tickets from $10 are available via Ticket Philadelphia at 215.893.1018 or operaphila.org.

A beloved, humorous, and often profound exploration of the trials of growing up, seeking ideals and finding love, The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte) follows the adventures of Prince Tamino as he undergoes feats of heroism to rescue his love, Pamina, from the forces of evil. Joining Tamino on his journey is Papageno, the comic birdcatcher, who dreams of one day finding his own sweetheart. Filled with Masonic rituals and religious allegory - Mozart and librettist Emanuel Schikaneder were members of the same lodge -The Magic Flute was an immediate hit when it debuted in 1791, with nearly 100 performances taking place in the first year after its premiere, and has been an audience favorite ever since. The opera's timeless appeal can be attributed to the music, as The Magic Flute features some of Mozart's most beautiful and infectious melodies, from the famously dazzling "Queen of the Night" aria, to the whimsical melodies of Papageno.

Replete with a menagerie of fantastical creatures, this production of The Magic Flute was originally created by Diane Paulus in 2011 for the Canadian Opera Company. Paulus, whose Broadway productions of Hair (2009) and The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess (2012) each won a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, sets the action in 1791, the year in which Mozart's opera was first performed, against the backdrop of the Enlightenment. The entire play-within-the-opera is presented in the open space of a nobleman's garden, itself a place of enchantment and symbolic power during this historical period. As the drama unfolds, the actors leave the theatre behind and continue to enact their story in an elaborate labyrinth that covers the grounds of the estate. All distinctions between fantasy and reality fade away as their pageant lasts through the night until dawn.

Opera Philadelphia Music Director Corrado Rovaris conducts an enchanting cast headed by Spanish tenor Antonio Lozano as Tamino and soprano Elizabeth Zharoff as his love, Pamina. The duo reunites one year after heating up the Academy stage in their company debuts in Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio. Having completed her master's degree in opera at the Curtis Institute of Music in May 2012, Zharoff has recently performed leading roles with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Opera National de Bordeaux. Lozano continues to receive audience and critical acclaim for performances across the globe, in Milan, Barcelona, Berlin and Valencia, among others.

Making her Opera Philadelphia debut as the Queen of the Night is Rachele Gilmore, one of today's leading young coloratura sopranos who combines a dynamic stage presence with a silvery timbre and an effortless high register. She comes to Philadelphia fresh off a star turn with Florida Grand Opera, where her debut as Amina in Bellini's La Sonnambula was hailed for its "enormous vocal power, depth of feeling and beauty of tone" by The Miami Herald. In 2009, Gilmore made a show-stopping debut with the Metropolitan Opera in the role of Olympia in Les contes d'Hoffmann, and she has built an impressive trail of acclaim in roles with Boston Lyric Opera and Teatro alla Scala, among many others.

Up and coming bass Jordan Bisch makes his company debut as the Queen's archrival, the villainously misunderstood Sarastro. Bisch earned praise this season for his debuts at the Arizona Opera as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor and Frère Laurent in Roméo et Julliette. A graduate of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Bisch made his main stage debut there as the Second Knight in Parsifal, and has since appeared in productions of Aida, Idomeneo, Roméo et Juliette, and on tour in Don Carlos.

British baritone Mark Stone, well-loved in Philadelphia as well as leading opera houses throughout Europe, returns as Papageno. Stone is known to local opera lovers as Ford in Falstaff, Germont in La traviata, and the title role in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. Appearing as Papagena issoprano Sarah Shafer, praised for her "luminous voice" and "intensely expressive interpretations" by The New York Times. The Curtis Institute of Music student and State College native is quickly emerging as a sought-after operatic artist, impressing in last season's Curtis Opera Theatre production of Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers and debuting at the Glyndebourne Festival and with Opera Memphis.

Ashlie Corcoran, Artistic Director of Thousand Islands Playhouse and an original collaborator on this production, directs the opera, with lighting design by Drew Billiau. The colorful sets and costumes by acclaimed designer Myung Hee Cho capture the sense of play and wonder in Mozart's music, as well as the whimsy and wisdom experienced in the opera's journey for self-knowledge, truth and love.

The Magic Flute features music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. This production was originally created for the Canadian Opera Company. It will run April 19, 21m, 24, 26 & 28m, 2013 at the Academy of Music, performed in German with English supertitles. Runtime: 3 hours including one 20-minute intermission. Performance times: Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets to The Magic Flute may be purchased at www.operaphila.org or by calling 215.893.1018. To learn more about The Magic Flute, go online at http://www.operaphila.org/production/magic-flute to find casting information, audio clips, a synopsis, special programming, biographies, ticketing services and other company information.