The VSU Music Department was buzzing at the return of classes as VSU students put on their opera production for the 2009-2010 year. This year marked the 10th annual opera for Valdosta State and was dedicated to Ed and Mary Crane. For this special anniversary there was much debate over the selection of the opera. The final decision was Tim Eno and the Magic Space Flute, a modern approach to The Magic Flute by: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
“Everyone seems to want to adapt The Magic Flute and we had performed it 10 years ago, our first production. With current space movies like Star Wars and Star Trek we felt as though The Magic Flute should be revisited, but in a modern way.” Dr. Carol Mikkelsen, director and producer said.�
Modern was just how they did it. The music for the production was that of Mozart’s however, the plot was very different and more contemporary to please the audience and to help be more identifiable. In the original The Magic Flute, the main character, Tamino, a handsome young prince, is replaced with Tim Eno, the prince of Aldar Lux. The character, Papageno kept the same name but used the letters of the name as a clever acronym; Pan-Asteroidal Petroleum And Geological Excavator, Number One. Instead of being a birdman and bird catcher, Papageno is an android robot who mines and collects green crystals for the Queen of the Dark Force, originally the Queen of the Night.
In addition to the character changes, most of the backdrop was done through computer animation. In the overture, the beginning of the opera, we hear similar motives throughout the opera and on the monitor onstage, we see Tim Eno travelling through Space. As the overture ends, Tim Eno lands on the Asteroid. Throughout the production, more images are displayed to help give us the allusion that we were in space. This addition was greatly enjoyed by the elementary students who viewed the opera.�
“The idea and goal this year was to teach people how to enjoy the opera,” Faith-Anne Lee, concertmaster of the pit orchestra, said.
Lee, a senior Music Performance major was very excited to work on this music. “It’s your standard Mozart music, deceptively different music that must be precise and clean.” she said.�
Lee was not the only student member of the pit orchestra. In fact, the entire pit orchestra consisted of students. This is the second year that the VSU Opera has used an all-student orchestra, and it has been marked once again successful for the production.
As concertmaster of the pit, Lee’s job was to make sure everyone was prepared for rehearsals and group sectionals. After that, Dr. Kenneth Kirk, maestro of the production, steps in to conduct the pit. “It was very quick paced; we had approximately, ten rehearsals.” Lee said. “Opera is the highlight of the year; the level of responsibility was very invigorating and I really enjoyed working on this music and loved the interpretation.”
Preparation for the vocalists was somewhat different than that of the instrumentalists. Tammara Housel, a senior Music Performance major auditioned and was cast for the role of Queen of the Dark Force. Auditions for the characters took place in August when school began, two weeks later, the cast was set and scores were ordered so they could begin working. “There were a lot of outside rehearsals and in addition to getting prepared we listened to excerpts on Youtube® and other recordings to get different feels of the characters.” Housel said, “Then it was a matter of going to the practice room and working on the part and all the spots that needed special attention.”�
The Queen of the Dark Force (Queen of the Night) is a very recognizable character for a soprano such as Housel. Many of the Queen’s aria’s (solo songs) are performed not only for a production of The Magic Flute but also in recitals, talent competitions, and other performances.�
When asked about her role Housel said, “This is my dream role. The Magic Flute was the first opera I saw and listened to and since then I have dreamt of singing this role.”�
Housel said, “The cast was great! We worked so well together and all of them are beyond talented, it was so much work.”
They performed the opera on Friday morning for elementary students in surrounding schools, Saturday evening, and a Sunday matinee. All three performances went off with a great success, but it was the dress rehearsal which held the drama.
“So much prep work is involved with the opera and the dress rehearsal is always kind of frantic, there is always something going on.” Dr. Mikkelsen said. However, with all the work and stress of the dress rehearsal it paid off with three successful performances.
Tim Eno flips ‘The Magic Flute’ upside-down