WNO Presents Mozart's Comic Masterpiece THE MAGIC FLUTE
The whimsical tale of The Magic Flute comes to life at Washington National Opera (WNO) at the Kennedy Center Opera House from November 2-23, 2019. Performed in English with projected surtitles, this production of The Magic Flute features design by famed children's author/illustrator Maurice Sendak. This light-hearted and comical opera is a delight for newcomers and opera fans alike.
The dashing Tamino will be performed by tenor David Portillo who sings "high notes with ease" (Opera News). Portillo previously performed with Washington National Opera in its 2015 production of La Cenerentola as Don Ramiro. Sydney Mancasola makes her WNO debut as the princess Pamina, having sung the role at the Metropolitan Opera last season. Mancasola has performed at distinguished opera houses across the United States and Europe, including Komische Oper Berlin, Oper Frankfurt, and the English National Opera. Following highly successful performances at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Houston Grand Opera, coloratura soprano Kathryn Lewek returns to WNO in a role which has become her signature-the Queen of the Night. Both Portillo and Lewek are set to reprise their roles at the Metropolitan Opera later this year.
This production of The Magic Flute features two alumni of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program who have become familiar faces to WNO audiences. Concurrent with his performances of Lodovico in this season's Otello, DCYAP alumnus bass Wei Wu tackles the role of the villain
Sarastro. Baritone Michael Adams, deemed a "Rising Star" by Opera News, portrays the hilarious bird catcher Papageno.
A special Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist performance of The Magic Flute takes place in the Opera House on Friday, November 22, 2019, and features singers from the Young Artist program in principal roles. Complete casting for this performance will be announced in the coming weeks.
This production was designed by Maurice Sendak, who is most known for his children's books Where the Wild Things Are (1963) and In the Night Kitchen (1970). A long-time opera fan and Mozart-admirer, Sendak was commissioned in the late 1970s to design sets and costumes for an upcoming production of The Magic Flute at Houston Grand Opera, which was mounted at Washington Opera in the 1980s. Sendak attributes a large part of his inspiration to poet William Blake, as well as to Mozart himself. Sendak incorporated numerous masonic symbols in the original designs, including floating eyes, pyramids, and temples, as Mozart was an early member of the Masonic Fraternity in Vienna, and even gained the status of "Master Mason." The opera has masonic allegory and a central theme of enlightenment woven throughout the plot, and Sendak embellished these aspects in his designs. The original production received critical acclaim, which inspired Sendak to design for numerous operas and ballets throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Neil Peter Jampolis (scenery and lighting design for the WNO production) recreated Sendak's creation for the Portland Opera revival in 2016.
The Magic Flute premiered under Mozart's baton in Vienna, 1791, just three months before his death, with the librettist Emanuel Schikaneder performing the role of Papageno. Over the 200 years since, audiences have described the production as fantastical and spectacular, and the opera has become Mozart's most successful singspiel, or a work that includes both singing and the spoken word. This comic opera features some of the most familiar melodies in classical operatic repertoire. The Queen of the Night's spectacularly challenging rage aria "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" has perhaps the opera's most recognizable melody. Pamina's deceptively simple, yet complex and emotionally powerful aria "Ach, ich fühl's, es ist verschwunden" requires enormous breath control, and has become a staple for lyric sopranos over the past two centuries. One of the most amusing scenes is the final "Pa-Pa-Pa-Papageno" duet between the bird catcher Papageno and his bride, Papagena.
Conductor Eun Sun Kim, who has been described as a "major star" by The New York Times, makes her WNO debut with this production. The Magic Flute is directed by Christopher Mattaliano, who led the 2016 production at the Portland Opera. He has previously directed for the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Opera, among others. Rounding out the creative team is John Garofalo in his WNO debut in projections and scenic and lighting design.
The opera's running time is approximately three hours, with a 25-minute intermission. Visit WNO's website for more information.
Washington National Opera's 2019-2020 season continues with the Marian Anderson Vocal Award Concert featuring Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist alumnus Soloman Howard (November 25, 2019), the annual American Opera Initiative (January 10, 2020), and Mozart's Don Giovanni (February 29-March 20, 2020). Tickets for the 2019-2020 season are now available.