Fathom Events' Met Opera "Magic Flute": Who But Masons?

The Metropolitan Opera's "The Magic Flute"
(photo: Met Opera)

The Magic Flute by Mozart is known for its use of imagery and symbolism from Masonry, which influenced the visual approach taken by the masterful Julie Taymor, who not only created the Production but was also responsible for the Costume Design and (with Michael Curry) Puppet Design. Taymor's work is already a beloved staple at the Met that grounds the opera in the mysticism of its Masonic sources and clarifies an otherwise potentially confusing plot.

In a mythical land Prince Tamino (Charles Castronovo) and bird catcher Papageno (Marcus Werba) are sent by the Queen of the Night (Kathryn Lewek) to rescue her daughter Pamina (Golda Schultz) who is being held captive by Sarastro (Rene Pape) and his brotherhood of priests. Tamino falls in love with Pamina's picture and plans to win her. At the Temple of Sarastro they learn that it's actually the Queen who is evil, and Sarastro, realizing Tamino and Pamina are meant for each other, promises Pamina eventual freedom. Tamino first undergoes the trials of initiation into the brotherhood. Pamina is horrified when the Queen asks her to kill Sarastro, who tells her he doesn't seek vengeace. Meanwhile, Tamino and Papageno are forbidden to speak, which makes Pamina heartbroken when she thinks Tamino doesn't care. Papageno meets an old lady who flirts with him, and he considers suicide when he can't find a (young) girl for himself. Tamino and Pamina are reunited after many trials, and Papageno discovers the old lady is really a young girl named Papagena (Ashley Emerson) with whom he falls in love (they'll save a fortune on the monogrammed towels). Finally the Queen and her entourage storm the temple but are driven away. All hail the triumph of courage, virtue and wisdom.

Marcus Werba as Papageno in "The Magic Flute"
(photo: Met Opera)

As beautifully Conducted by James Levine, with simple Choreography by Mark Dendy, stunningly magical Set Design by George Tsypin, and brilliant Lighting Design by Donald Holder, it remains a visual treat, enhanced by the HD Direction by Gary Halvorson and the presence of HD Host Nadine Sierra. But it was the singing that truly immersed viewers, from Castronova and Schultz as the young lovers, Werba and Emerson as the comic duo, and the seasoned work of Pape and Lewek. It was a joy to listen to Lewek's aria especially, known as a challenging audience pleaser.

Thankfully this is not the highly truncated kiddies' version in awful English translation that the Met offers for holiday audiences, but a full (almost four hour) and fully satisfying journey.
Encore performance will be HD broadcast on Wednesday Oct. 18th at a theater near you.

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