Bold is beautiful in design of “The Magic Flute”

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November 26th, 2012

Omaha, NE- Opera Omaha is debuting Mozart’s The Magic Flute next spring, and there’s already buzz about the production and the artist behind its contemporary vision.

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Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute is timeless in its portrayal of love and adventure. It’s also a chameleon of sorts. Traditional and contemporary designers alike have placed an artistic stamp of their own on the long-running production.

Jun Kaneko (left) works on samples for “The Magic Flute.” (Photo courtesy of KANEKO)

Roger Weitz, the general director of Opera Omaha explained the hype. “The Magic Flute is one of the most popular operas of all time,” he said. “It’s performed frequently all over the world, so there are numerous types of productions.” Weitz said some productions are traditional with directors and designers attempting to recreate what audiences might have seen when The Magic Flute was first written. Others, like Opera Omaha’s own interpretation, he added, are more forward-thinking and bold.

Omaha artist Jun Kaneko was tapped as head designer for the production. Though Kaneko is not synonymous with opera, his first, and successful, design work for Opera Omaha’s 2006 production of Madame Butterfly made him a natural choice for The Magic Flute. “Jun is just that kind of artist who’s so adventurous,” Weitz said.

Set drawing by Jun Kaneko. (Photo courtesy of KANEKO)

“I’m told he knows no fear,” Weitz said. “He really loves the idea of challenging himself and doing something new and stretching his own boundaries and pushing himself as an artist.”

The KANEKO building in downtown Omaha that bears his name and his artistic footprint is undeniably recognizable —colorful and abstract. And that is what Weitz said Kaneko is bringing to The Magic Flute.

Weitz said, “Jun’s vision of The Magic Flute is new. It’s bold; it’s contemporary, and it’s exciting.” That’s appropriate for an opera written by Mozart who was a revolutionary composer, Weitz said, and “took opera to a new place.”

“So I see Jun Kaneko bringing the spirit of Mozart, the spirit of the opera and his fantastic artistry,” he said. “It’s an ideal combination for this piece.”

Thursday, Nov. 29 at the KANEKO building on 11th and Jones Streets at 7 p.m., Jun Kaneko will discuss his experiences in designing the forward-thinking set design and costumes.

Patrons can also see early samples and finished art from The Magic Flute, which opens in February, 2013 at the Orpheum Theater.

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