Soprano Celena Shafer, from Layton, UT., is appearing in the ongoing Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre production of ‘The Magic Flute’ by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as the Queen of the Night.

LOGAN – After a two-year hiatus, grand opera is back at the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre with both style and spectacle.

The UFOMT’s production of Mozart’s masterpiece The Magic Flute is a delight, with brilliant costuming, stunning sets, clever puppets and glorious music conducted by maestro Dallas K. Heaton.

The Magic Flute in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form of entertainment during the late 18th Century that included both singing and spoken dialogue. Here in Utah, the UFOMT performs the opera in English.

The story of The Magic Flute is a fairy tale set in a mythical land between the sun and the moon.

After being rescued from a massive serpent by her magical minions, The Queen of the Night (dramatically performed by Utah’s own Celina Shafer) challenges Tamino (impressive tenor Thomas Massey) to save her daughter Pamina from the supposedly wicked Sarastro.

Things are not as they appear, however. With the bird-catcher Papageno at his side, Tamino comes to realize that Sarastro is a positive force and voluntarily undergoes trials to win Pamina.

The Magic Flute was written in the midst of the chaos and cruelty of the French Revolution, so composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart filled his final opera with obscure Masonic symbolism in an appeal to rationality.

This UFOMT production — skillfully directed by Vanessa Ballam — wisely couldn’t care less, focusing instead on the opera’s comic and magical aspects.

Thankfully, there are plenty of those.

In a counterpoint to Massey’s dead serious Tamino, baritone Lee Gregory plays Papageno strictly for laughs. Representing the completely sensual side of humanity, his performance blends comedic antics and wistful yearning. He fails every test but still finds love with Papagena, winningly played by soprano Sara Lucille Law.

Gregory and Law share a beautiful moment during the Papageno-Papagena duet. Clearly these performers remembered that The Magic Flute’s purpose is to touch the hearts of the audience, regardless of whether they are familiar with the historical background of the opera.

Stage designer Dennis Hassan adds to the magical aspects of the opera with his trademark puppets, including the massive serpent in the opening scene and later towering representations of animals.

Like most grand operas, The Magic Flute has a huge cast.

Standout among those performers are bass Matthew Soibelman as Sarastro; Kara Goodrich as Pamina; and Fatu Su’es’e as the lustful Monostatos.

In a gesture toward full-disclosure, the UFOMT announced a content warning of an attempted suicide in The Magic Flute.

Evening performances of The Magic Flute will continue at the Ellen Eccles Theatre in downtown Logan on July 15 and 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Matinee performances are slated for 1 p.m. on July 23 and Aug. 5.



Source link