Opera Maine Presents A New Production Of THE MAGIC FLUTE
To celebrate its 25th Anniversary--and the magic of opera--Opera Maine presents its first-ever production of Mozart's The Magic Flute. The magnificent music and captivating story create a fantasy world, where a prince and a bird catcher set out on a trial-filled journey to rescue a beautiful princess. Armed with a magic flute and enchanted bells, they confront bewildering forces of good and evil and discover enlightenment and the power of love. The twisting tale has enthralled young and old alike since the opera's premiere in 1791, less than three months before Mozart's death.
Opera Maine's production of The Magic Flute will be presented at Merrill Auditorium on Wednesday, July 24 and Friday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m. The opera will be sung in German, with English dialogue and supertitles.
Roberto Kalb, Head of Music and Resident Conductor at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, makes his Opera Maine debut conducting The MagicFlute. In a feature story in the July issue of Opera News, the Mexican-American maestro told the interviewer that while he loves conducting symphonies, "there's something about a singer onstage, accompanied by an orchestra, delivering a message, that's unlike anything else,....That's what I live for." This season Kalb conducted The Barber of Seville for Tulsa Opera andFrida, an opera about the artist Frida Kahlo, for Florida Grand Opera. He conducted Rigoletto for Kentucky Opera, and again for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, immediately before coming to Maine. Kalb is also an award-winning composer whose works have been performed in Mexico, France, Germany, and the U.S.
Dona D. Vaughn, Opera Maine's acclaimed Artistic Director, is the director of the production. The Magic Flute marks her 25th anniversary with Opera Maine, because she has directed every mainstage production since the company's first opera in 1995.
Singing the role of Prince Tamino is tenor Geoffrey Agpalo. He comes to Portland fresh from Michigan Opera Theatre where he performed as Jim Casy in The Grapes of Wrath. Last summer he made his role debut as Alfredo in La Traviata with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. He has also performed with Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Pamina, the princess in distress, will be performed by soprano Brandie Sutton. She has sung leading roles with Seattle Opera, Kentucky Opera, and Knoxville Opera, and will return this fall to the roster of the Metropolitan Opera. Overseas, Ms. Sutton has performed with Staatsoper Hamburg and Semperoper Dresden, among others. Her concert work includes performances with the New York Philharmonic.
Tamino's companion in his quest is the bird catcher Papageno, a baritone role performed by Robert Mellon, who starred as Figaro in Opera Maine's 2018 production of The Marriage of Figaro. A former Opera Maine Studio Artist, Mr. Mellon made his professional debut with the company in 2016 as Le Dancaïre inCarmen. This season he made his role debut as Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni with Syracuse Opera.
Soprano Kathryn Bowden will sing the notoriously difficult music of the Queen of the Night. She performed the role with San Francisco Opera and made her Metropolitan Opera debut as the Queen in 2017. This coming season she will again sing the role with the Metropolitan Opera, as well as with San Diego Opera and the Boston Youth Symphony.
Hidenori Inoue, bass, returns to Opera Maine to sing the role of the Queen of the Night's nemesis, Sarastro. Mr. Inoue was a Studio Artist in 2017, and performed as Makoto Kobayashi in An American Dream, a role he recently reprised with Anchorage Opera and Virginia Opera. He also sang principal bass roles with Tulsa Opera and Opera Omaha.
The three ladies who attend the Queen of the Night are sopranos Anna Mandina and Maureen Brabec, and mezzo-soprano Kristen Choi. A former Opera Maine Studio Artist, Ms. Mandina recently made her role debut as Liù in Sarasota Opera's production of Turandot. Kristen Choi has been hailed for her portrayal of Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, a role she has performed with Opera Omaha, Opera Philadelphia, Washington National Opera, Virginia Opera, and Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Ms. Brabec is a Studio Artist who recently completed her Master of Music at UCLA. This fall she will continue her professional training as an apprentice with the Boston University Opera Institute.
Bass Matthew Curran will sing the role of the Speaker of the Temple. He has performed many of the repertoire's principal roles for bass with Zürich Opera, Seattle Opera, Atlanta Opera, Memphis Opera, among many others.
The wicked Monostatos will be performed by tenor Lucas Levy, who previously was a Studio Artist with Opera Maine and made his professional debut with the company in 2016. Mr. Levy recently sang the role of Rinuccio in St. Petersburg Opera's production of Gianni Schicchi, and Dr. Caius in Opera Omaha's Falstaff.
Yeonji Lee will appear as the bird catcher's mate, Papagena. She is known for her interpretation of Setsuko in An American Dream, and has performed that role with Virginia Opera, Seattle Opera, and Anchorage Opera.
Three Maine girls, Amelie Lourdeau, Hope Poore, and Liberty Krauss, will be the Spirits who help guide Tamino and Papageno on their journey.
The Magic Flute is a singspiel, a type of popular German opera that combines singing with spoken dialogue. Emanuel Schikaneder, manager of a popular theater in Vienna, wrote the libretto and Mozart composed the music, blending virtuosic arias, folk-inspired melodies, and spiritual choruses to brilliant effect. On the surface, The Magic Flute is a fairy tale, but Mozart and Schikaneder drew on their beliefs as Freemasons to explore profound and timeless themes.
Opera Maine has expanded its "Opera for All!" program this anniversary season. Through a grant from Wells Fargo, anyone aged 25 and under can attend The Magic Flute for free. In addition, with support from Macy's, 100 free tickets will be distributed to active and retired military and first responders and their families.
Besides The Magic Flute, Opera Maine presents two performances of Sumeida's Song, a contemporary opera by Mohammed Fairouz, July 10 and 12 at the Portland Ballet Studio Theatre. Guest Artist baritone Mario Diaz-Moresco leads the cast in this Studio Artist production which also features Guest Artist tenor, Omar Najmi, soprano Jessica Bayne, and mezzo-soprano Zaray Rodriguez. The opera is based on Tawfiq al-Hakim's play 'Song of Death', a classic in Arab theater. Sumeida's Song follows the return of Alwan, a young man from Cairo, to his village in Upper Egypt. He defies his family's expectations that he will fulfill an age-old blood feud. Instead, he reveals that the true purpose of his return is to end the violence and bring light and enlightenment to his village. Gloria Kim conducts and Richard Gammon directs.
Opera Maine also celebrates its anniversary with a special exhibition July 5 through 27 in the Lewis Gallery of the Portland Public Library. Through video highlights, photographs, and memorabilia, this exhibition showcases the wonderfully talented musicians and designers who have created Opera Maine's memorable productions over the past 25 years. The exhibition discusses opera as an art form, explores Mozart's The Magic Flute, and highlights Maine's early connections with opera and opera houses.
The Magic Flute by W.A. Mozart
Wednesday, July 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Pre-Curtain Presentation at 6:30 p.m. by Calien Lewis
Merrill Auditorium, Portland
Tickets: $31 - $131 (includes service fees)
(207) 842-0800 or porttix.com