Monday, February 25, 2013

An Afternoon of Opera

Anyone who has been reading my blog for any period of time knows that I love opera. I've only been to three different operas (but I've seen one of those operas three times, now), which isn't much in the grand scheme of things, but in this day in age, it makes me Frasier Crane. Omaha has a fantastic opera company, Opera Omaha, bringing great classics and new works to the Omaha area since 1958.

This past weekend, they performed The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

I have seen this opera three times now. The first time was when I was in college. The Mizzou School of Music put it on at the Missouri Theatre, and I jumped at the chance to see my first opera, even if I did go alone (none of my friends wanted to go). I had fun though I thought the production left something to be desired (Their Pamina had a beautiful voice, but was not an actress!)

A year later, while planning a trip to Santa Fe with my best friend, Lauren, I discovered Santa Fe had an amazing opera company. The night we had free for opera, they were showing The Magic Flute. The theater is practically outside, and when the Queen of the Night sang her aria, heat lightning struck in the distance. Coolest thing EVER!

Opera Omaha's production of The Magic Flute was designed by Jun Kaneko, who also designed last year's production of Madama Butterfly, which I also saw (and featured my former voice teacher, Shelby VanNordstrand in the chorus). Kaneko has a very imaginative eye, and for the purposes of this imaginative story, it was perfect. It was bright, colorful, with so many different textures and prints. It was a joy to watch.

(c) Opera Omaha
They didn't follow the dialogue from the original script (I'm positive), adding in jokes about a poor economy, and a lot more sex jokes than what would've been approved in the 1700's (though I could be wrong. This was Mozart, who was known to be silly and inappropriate). It was amusing, and actually helped move Tamino's long, arduous passages along.

Believe it or not, I am NOT a fan of Tamino, the so-called hero. I think he's a ninny who is way too introspective for his own good. I'm more of a Papageno fan. Papageno was a bird-catcher, who went with Tamino to rescue Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night.

Papageno just wants to find his one true love and have kids. Tamino wants to be with Pamina, and also seeks to become enlightened, so he goes through several tests to prove himself. Papageno goes through the first few tests but doesn't make it that far. He doesn't want to be enlightened.

(c) Opera Omaha
So, while I don't care for Tamino, it's the character, in general that I don't care for. Singer, Shawn Mathey, did a wonderful job in the role. Stunning voice. Papageno, performed by Corey McKern, was hilarious. He took Papageno and made him big and boisterous, which is what the character needed.

Going back to the colorful production, I have to say, Pamina was like Alice in Alice in Wonderland. Her two different costumes were mostly blue with full skirts, and black character shoe-Mary Janes. She was also a blonde with a side part.

(c) Opera Omaha
She was thrust into a new world by being kidnapped, and with Kaneko's strange characters, all bigger than life, working toward their own goals and using Pamina for that gain. A different world and all she wants to do is go home until she discovers her mother is the villain.

Pamina (Monica Yunus) had a stunning voice, and it was a pleasure to hear her sing "Ach ich fuhls" (NOT Yunus, and NOT in English, like the production I saw). I love that song, and it's a hard song to sing (I've tried).

Musically, everyone did a fantastic job. Opera Omaha never disappoints, and I'm so glad to have an Opera Company who cares about the classics so much. It always surprises me how many people go to the Opera since it has a stigma of fat women singing with horns and a breastplate. The Sunday afternoon showing that we went to was sold out. We had an extra ticket since my dad couldn't go (out of town on work), so my mom suggested inviting her friend, Dawn, who goes to our church. Dawn had never been to the opera, and she really enjoyed herself. While I was driving everyone home (parking in downtown Omaha is a NIGHTMARE! Carpooling is the way to go), we had a great conversation about what we thought.

Loved the show, and I'm so glad that we all had a great time.

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