Tag Archives: Magic Flute

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

bari steals show in COC’s delightful ‘Flute’

How many people watch The Magic Flute and wonder why Mozart wrote such a lighthearted, whimsical character as Papageno for the baritone voice? Anyone besides me?

In many cases, too many to mention here, baritones are opera’s bad boys, villains, tragically flawed protagonists,  womanizers, and drunkards.  

And then there is Papageno, the spritely birdcatcher–a part in a class all its own–who always seems to steal the show, no matter who produces the show.  

According to the professional reviews and audience reactions on the Canadian Opera Company‘s Facebook page, in the COC’s new production of The Magic Flute running through February 25, Papageno, the bird-catching bari, strikes again, capturing the heartshare of operagoers and critics alike. The review from the Toronto Star said:  

“The star of this production is Russian baritone Rodion Pogossov, who lit up the stage whenever he appeared. He not only sang beautifully but was a paragon of comic flippancy as Papageno, the bird-man who only wants a nice wife and something good to eat and drink.” — John Terauds  

Rodion Pogossov as Papageno / photo by Michael Cooper

Congratulations to the COC on another hit! Enjoy more of the photographs taken during dress rehearsal.  

Michael Schade as Tamino/photo by Michael Cooper

Lisa DiMaria as Papagena and Rodion Pogossov as Papageno /photo by Michael Cooper

 For remaining performances and tickets, visit the COC website. Production credits: Conductor Johannes Debus, director Diane Paulus, set and costume designer Myung Hee Cho and lighting designer Scott Zielinski.

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Filed under Classic Opera, Mozart, North American Opera

2010 in review–Operatoonity gets a wow!

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health: 

Healthy blog! The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow

Crunchy numbers

Victorio Grigolo sang the Duke in Rigoletto a Manatova

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2010. That’s about 29 full 747s. 

In 2010, there were 186 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 576 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 88mb. That’s about 2 pictures per day. 

The busiest day of the year was December 21st with 270 views. The most popular post that day was COC brings in visionary American director for 2011 ‘Magic Flute’

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, digg.com, avaopera.org, and mail.live.com

Some visitors came searching, mostly for winter solstice, winter, teddy tahu rhodes, operatoonity, and hester prynne

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010. 


COC brings in visionary American director for 2011 ‘Magic Flute’ December 2010 


Meet ‘LeandraOpera’ on Sunday Best March 2010


get with it, NYC, says M.C. Hammer-bee May 2010


If it’s Tuesday, ask Richard about ‘Rigoletto’ filmed in Mantua September 2010 


About Operatoonity February 2010

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COC brings in visionary American director for 2011 ‘Magic Flute’

Diane Paulus

She’s known for her vision and her chutzpah. Now, Tony Award®-nominated director and New York city native Diane Paulus makes her COC debut directing the Canadian Opera Company’s production of the The Magic Flute

Paulus co-created The Donkey Show, a disco adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which ran off-Broadway from 1999 to 2005, in collaboration with her husband Randy Weiner. But it was her direction of the 2009 revival of Hair that earned her a coveted Tony nomination. 

The COC may be turning a venerable 61 years old in 2011, but their commitment to productions that are vital and fresh keeps them young in spirit and relevant–surely one of the reasons they are doing extremely well financially while other houses haven’t been as lucky or visionary, making headlines for all the wrong reasons.  Consider their fall production of Aida with a Cold War backdrop–nary a Sphinx or tunic in sight. It was a daring and well-considered treatment,  which has become, in case you weren’t looking, the COC’s hallmark. 

Griffin, © Myung Hee Cho 2010, set and costume designer for The Magic Flute

Together with sets and costumes by Myung Hee Cho, this Magic Flute looks to make a much different mark than a recent production directed by another acclaimed female American for the Met (and we all know who that is, right?) The COC’s Magic Flute runs for 12 performances on Jan. 29, Feb. 1, 3, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 18, 20, 23, and 25, 2011. 

Follow Parlando, the COC blog, to see continuing updates and photos from behind the scenes as they build this new production.

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