Category Archives: opera webcasts

Love Mozart? Go see Branagh’s ‘Magic Flute’ Sunday, America!


Branagh’s ‘The Magic Flute’ will be shown in 1,500 theaters in the US this Sunday.

The stateside premiere of  legendary actor and director Kenneth Branagh’s version of The Magic Flute hits 1,500 theaters across the U.S. this Sunday, June 9, with selected encore presentations Tuesday, June 11. (Click here for the theater nearest you.)

The music is resplendent (of course), the voices soar, and the cinematography is worth writing home about if you have a Technicolor-loving sweetheart or know anyone else who likes bright, shiny movies.

While The Magic Flute has always been a showcase for some of Mozart’s most beloved music, this filmed rendition of the opera actually makes sense for a change–most of the time. You know how The Magic Flute always seems to be outside the realm of logic and possibility, even for someone with an imagination? Well, it is still that but to a much lesser degree in this version. So much so that I relaxed into the opera for the first time–ever, immersing myself in Mozart’s glorious music, the complete performances, and Branagh’s inventive retelling.

Silly, sexy, stirring–stunning. It’s a winner!

It’s also not a production for children–and that’s a blessed change as far as I’m concerned. Not everyone needs their opera Disney-ized and Disney-sized with giant, lumbering animal puppets.

Kenneth Branagh headshot

Kenneth Branagh, director ‘The Magic Flute’ | photo by Blake Gardner

While watching a review copy from the film’s LA distributor earlier this week, I couldn’t help think that Kenneth Branagh must have been intimately familiar with Mozart’s most sprightly opera, perhaps listening to it on end as a child after numerous readings of the poem  “In Flanders Fields”.

The film unfolds as though seeing the singspiel that Branagh may have conceived of in a dream state because of the colors, the surrealistic elements, the fantastical bits.  Striking azure blue uniforms give way to a battalion of violin players to a trio of buxom and besmitten ladies. Not to mention a powerful scene where Pamina’s mumsy-dearest ties her to a flaming windmill. Really.

Unlike another 2013 Academy-Award nominated big-screen musical in which only three or four cast members had the chops to actually sing the thing,  a flick which will remain nameless, the voices in this version are extraordinary.

Yes, Branagh knows how to cast a movie version of an opera! Joseph Kaiser as Tamino, Lyubov Petrova as the Queen of the Night, and René Pape as Sarastro were my particular favorites, followed by a spectacular showing by the three ladies: Teuta Koco, Louise Callinan, and Kim-Marie Woodhouse. You can see all the cast members here. Each one was first-rate vocally and very well directed–with love and care.

scene from Magic Flute

Papagena’s competition

I confess that I’m not the Magic Flute lover that many are, yet I adored this version. Fresh, fun, classy, artistically significant. Setting the musical during World War I worked. Blending realistic and fantasy elements in the same scene worked, too.

More information about the production is available at the Emerging Pictures website.

Here is the official movie trailer, which might whet your appetite for catching the movie in the theater this weekend. As a  special treat at selected theaters, a live Q&A with Kenneth Branagh via webcast will follow the showing. Yours to enjoy, America!

YouTube Preview Image

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, filmed opera, Mozart, North American Opera, Opera and humor, Opera Simulcast, opera webcasts, Previews, Uncategorized

‘Werther’ live webcast with James Valenti on Sunday, February 5

James Valenti in Werther live webcast

Minnesota Opera together with collaborators SoundQue and Opera Music invite you to tune in for the first  live webcast of 2012, Massanet’s Werther starring James Valenti and Roxana Constantinescu, airing February 5, at 2 PM CT (8 PM GMT).

The webcast will be offered worldwide free of charge, which means no barriers of price and/or location. The webcast will further the company’s efforts to expand accessibility to live opera performance and exposure to Minnesota Opera’s artistic quality.

“Last year we started live video webstreaming of opera — every performance we have broadcast has averaged about 60-80,000 viewers, from over 20 countries,” says Kelly Rinne, music director of Opera Music Broadcast, explained in a recent interview on Operatoonity. “My goal is to do for the regional companies what the HD broadcasts did for the Met — our station already has the built-in audience through our use of social media. We just need the opera companies to step up and look to build their audience beyond the physical confines of the opera house.”

The live webcast advances the technology currently offered by the Met and other houses who provide free audio to selected performances: tomorrow, you can see AND hear Werther.  Just visit Opera Music Broadcast’s website to enjoy. It’s that simple.

So, why not give yourself an early valentine and tune in?

For the last threWerther live webcast from Minnesota Opera starring James Valenti on Feb 5th 2012e years, Minnesota Opera has made new media a priority, working with those at the vanguard of the fast-changing field of digital distribution for opera. This project is an opportunity for Minnesota Opera to become the first major American opera company to webcast its works through this emerging distribution channel. Thanks to major funding provided by the St. Paul Cultural star Program, Minnesota Opera’s production of Werther has the potential to reach exponentially greater audience members than it could in its one-week engagement on the Ordway stage.

The Cast webcast only
Werther, a poet James Valenti
Charlotte Roxana Constantinescu
Albert, her betrothed Gabriel Preisser
Sophie, Charlotte’s sister Angela Mortellaro
Le Bailli, Charlotte’s father Joseph Beutel
Schmidt, his friend John Robert Lindsey
Johann, his friend Rodolfo Nieto
Brühlmann, a young man Mark Thomas
Käthchen, a young woman Alison Schardin

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Classic Opera, Collaborative opera, opera and technology, Opera broadcasts, opera webcasts