Mozart for the People!

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February 19th, 2013

This weekend is Mozart for the People!

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When Opera Omaha set out to stage a new production of Mozart’s popular opera, “The Magic Flute,” the decision was made to remain as faithful as possible to Mozart’s intentions. Conductor Nicholas Cleobury says that at it’s most fundamental level, “The Magic Flute” was entertainment for the common people.

“Mozart was really bringing music back to its roots, having done court opera and Italian opera and so forth, this was really the people’s opera – music and theatre for the people. It was off-broadway, on the edge of town, it wasn’t at all a sophisticated place, and ordinary people who perhaps thought opera wasn’t for them could relate to the piece. I think that has to be one of the main reasons it’s still so popular today.

At the time Italian was still the language of opera, but Mozart chose to present “The Magic Flute” in the language of the people: German. Maestro Cleobury says this production will be performed in English. He points out the libretto was prepared specifically for an American audience.

“What David Gottfried has done is cut a lot of the dialogue down – there is some quite long dialogue in the original – and put in a lot of contemporary allusions. I can say this as an Englishman, it’s really quite American – and quite right! It’s of the place it’s being done in. There’s no point in having Swedish and Polish jokes in an opera that’s being done in America.”

To accompany this American take on Mozart is a 21st-century approach to set design by world-renowned Omaha Artist Jun Kaneko.

“The scenery for this is 1200 projected animated sequences on five projection surfaces from seven different projectors. So it is a high-tech coordination event.

That was Stage Director Garnett Bruce. Bruce says this reflects what a modern audience, familiar with television, computers, and smart phones, expects from a stage production.

“Creating a way to keep your eye as engaged as your ear, which is something I think a 21st century audience wants to know. So if a Kaneko sculpture could come to life and move around, that’s what’s been created here on stage.”

Opera Omaha presents Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” on Friday, February 22 at 7:30 PM and Sunday, February 24 at 2 PM. Both performances are in the Orpheum Theater.

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