After my rather scathing, soporific remarks about Mozart, I must attempt to redeem myself in the eyes of my esteemed readers and genuinely declare that Die Zauberflöte is my favorite Mozart opera. Never (okay, rarely) do I feel sleepy while listening to the composer’s final opera nor do I wish for an hour to be erased from its duration. It endlessly enchants. More importantly, I revere the values of virtue and their role as a precursor to love and friendship in the opera.
Quirky and inventive, Simon McBurney’s new production was a conceptual magnum opus. The real-time visual artist providing the backdrop for the stage and the foley artist creating sounds that I thought I could only hear in movies were fascinating. Additionally, the emphasized use of the opera house and the raised orchestra pit made for charismatic camaraderie between the singers, orchestra members, and the audience.
With so many varied devices employed to bombard the senses with stimulation, it was easy to forget about one thing: the music. By the end of the first act, I was mentally exhausted from trying to keep up with whatever clever ruse was occurring on stage at any moment that I had to make an arduous effort to listen for my favored melodies.
When ruminating over what I experienced, I’m glad I witnessed the new production as I’ve never seen anything like it in all my life. However, I don’t think I would have the same reaction a second time. It’s like opening a gift; the magic happens only once.
Following on the heels of the modern street wear Don Giovanni, the new production of Die Zauberflöte was even more ambiguous as to the style of costumes. “Was there even a costume designer ?” I mused as I consulted the cast sheet. Track suits, business suits, tattered sequins, and quilted vests that looked like they belonged to a careless auto mechanic were the fare of the day. My only possibility for something decent came from the promotional still published by the Met.
The white shirtdress used to represent Pamina’s innocence piqued my interest as I could easily work the finished dress into my wardrobe after the opera. Indie patterns were not suitable to my tastes. Instead, I sought after patterns that had timeless style and settled on B6576, a Butterick release from 1993.
A crisp white stretch shirting from Julie’s Picks swatch club was just right for the application. And although my mother couldn’t think of me as anything other than a nurse while wearing this dress, I was pleased with how the details took shape even in monochromatic tones.
While the finished garment would have looked stunning with a wide leather belt, I couldn’t find one to fit my parameters and chose to use the sash pattern from my previous shirtdress as a substitute. Minimalist styling may have been used for Pamina in the opera, but I needed my pearls to accessorize !
My beaded clutch with the abstract rays of a sun was a nod to Sarastro and his realm of enlightenment.
The opera and its production were zany, but even I could not escape my own trial of mischief at home.
That’s Opie (or as we often say, “Dennis the Menace”) inserting himself into every photo he could. Who’s even looking at the pretty white bow in my hair or the rolled cuffs of the sleeves ?!
Between the two of us, he was by far the more photogenic and a natural for the camera. A Met debut may be in his future.
Beauty and Wisdom were the triumphs of the day in what was a stupendous way to cap off the 2022-2023 Live in HD season. Now, it’s time for rest. And of course, preparing for the next opera season.
Toi, Toi, Toi,
Cast and Credits
Die Zauberflöte ─ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1791)
Live in HD air date: June 3, 2023
Pamina ─ Erin Morely
Queen of the Night ─ Kathryn Lewek
Tamino ─ Lawrence Brownlee
Monostatos ─ Brenton Ryan
Papageno ─ Thomas Oliemans
Speaker ─ Harold Wilson
Sarastro ─ Stephen Milling
Conductor ─ Nathalie Stutzmann
Production and Choreography ─ Simon McBurney
Set Designer ─ Michael Levine
Costume Designer ─ Nicky Gillibrand
Lighting Designer ─ Jean Kalman
Projection Designer ─ Finn Ross
Sound Designer ─ Gareth Fry
Live in HD Director ─ Gary Halvorson
Host ─ Ben Bliss