Arizona Opera presents THE MAGIC FLUTE in Phoenix and Tucson

Performances at Symphony Hall on April 7th, 8th, and 9th and The Linda Ronstadt Hall on April 15th and 16th

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Arizona Opera brings Mozart's THE MAGIC FLUTE to Phoenix and Tucson next month. One of history's most popular masterpieces, the family-friendly classic explores the search for truth and reason, love and enlightenment. Joseph Specter, the president and general director of Arizona Opera, calls it "a fantastical tale rich with comedy, enchantment, and fantasy...inviting the audience along a journey of darkness and light."

In this production, Soprano Katrina Galka makes her role debut as The Queen of the Night. Recently, Mr. Spector delved into Ms. Galka's journey to and reflection on the role:

What excites Galka the most about the role? The challenge. And how every time she works her pieces, she discovers another way to make it easier, more fluid, more vibrant, more exciting, and more expressive.

"I love doing things that stretch me and ask me to master parts of myself in the process, and this role is absolutely an example of that!" she said. "Sometimes you prepare music that you can sing right from the beginning without a second thought...this has not been one of those pieces for me. The role feels more like the Olympics of singing."

The Queen of the Night sings pieces that not only require extraordinary vocal technical ability, but are also incredibly well-known, and the anticipation from the audience is high. Galka said the role requires that she be bold and highly energized in her approach to the high F's and the rest of the piece, while also finding a certain amount of groundedness, calm, and release. "It's what I would imagine it would feel like to do backflips on a balance beam-it takes play and finesse to find that artful balance," explained Galka.

Appreciating that there are still significant cultural challenges in terms of equal treatment of women today, The Magic Flute premiered in 1791 during an era when women were far less recognized and treated less equally in society, and as such, the original libretto is embedded with now problematic material in regards to issues of gender roles, sex, and causal misogyny, which Galka showcases in her role.

While some modern-day opera-goers have claimed The Queen of the Night is one of opera's most deranged mothers, Galka disagrees with this quick judgment, claiming it is one that reflects the very real historical oppression of women, who when dealing with emotional and mental trauma, were gaslit and diagnosed with hysteria and other mental ailments.

"From the Queen's perspective, she's suffered some pretty intense losses," said Galka. "Her daughter was kidnapped right from under her nose, and she lost all her power to Sarastro through an act of betrayal by her own late husband. She's basically lost all control, and her sense of safety and identity in the world has been violated. People do extreme things when they're pushed to extreme places."

Galka admits, the demand to murder Sarastro was not justified nor did the Queen think about the position she put her daughter in when she asked her to kill Sarastro.

"To say that she's deranged diminishes her power, and the thing is, she is entirely led by and motivated by power," shared Galka. "So, for me, in my embodiment of her, it is important to not just write her off as 'crazy' or 'deranged,' if I really want to understand her. There is a fire and a spontaneity and so many quick turns in her music that I think show how extremely passionate and motivated by her emotions she is. But the music is never without sense. Everything she does makes perfect sense - most importantly to her - and I think if we're being empathetic, we can make sense of it as well - even if we don't agree."

You can attend THE MAGIC FLUTE in Phoenix on April 7th, 8th, and 9th at Symphony Hall. In Tucson, you'll find it at The Linda Ronstadt Music Hall on April 15th and 16th.

photo by Tim Trumble


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