CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: April 16, 1999
UI Opera Theater returns to Hancher April 30, May 2
with Mozart's 'Magic Flute'
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Guest director William Theisen will
lead the University of Iowa Opera Theater in a return to the UI Hancher Auditorium
for performances of Mozart's "Magic Flute" at 8 p.m. Friday, April 30 and
2 p.m. Sunday, May 2.
Having performed in Clapp Recital Hall for its most recent
three productions, the Opera Theater will return to Hancher's spacious stage
for the first time since the 1997 production of Puccini's "Sister Angelica"
and "Gianni Schicchi."
The performances of "The Magic Flute" will feature a cast
of UI students and guests. The University Symphony will be directed by William
LaRue Jones. Scenic design for the production is by Margaret Wenk, and costume
design is by Loyce L. Arthur, both of the UI College of Liberal Arts Production
Unit. Richard Boldrey, a visiting professor in the UI School of Music, is
responsible for musical preparation.
"The Magic Flute," which has spoken dialogue between the
musical numbers, will be performed in English.
"The Magic Flute" was written in the last year of Mozart's
life. Considered a great work of art today, it was created as the 1791 equivalent
of a hit Broadway show. Mozart and his collaborator -- the popular-theater
impresario Emanuel Schickaneder -- used all the familiar conventions of the
popular theater of the times. In 1790s Vienna, these included a heroic prince,
his comic and cowardly sidekick, magical musical instruments and surprising
To this sure-fire formula, they added a few tricks of
their own: a priestly cult, some pieces of Eastern mysticism borrowed from
Masonic symbolism, and of course the one ingredient that made the show immortal
-- Mozart's inimitable music.
The opera opens with Prince Tamino being pursued by a
dragon. He faints, but is saved by three ladies, who serve the Queen of the
Night. The Queen appears, and urges Tamino to rescue her daughter, Pamina,
who has been kidnapped by the wizard Sarastro. She gives Tamino a magical
flute to help him on his journey and, for his companion Papageno the bird-catcher,
a set of magic bells.
They find Pamina, but Sarastro turns out to be the wise
leader of a priestly order. The priests offer to initiate Tamino into their
order so that he can marry Pamina and succeed Sarastro as ruler of their enlightened
realm. Tamino and Papageno undergo a series of trials, which Tamino passes
with flying colors, while his companion provides comic relief. Each is paired
with a mate -- Tamino with Pamina and Papageno with a look-alike named Papagena
-- and the opera ends happily for everyone.
The combinations of contrasting
elements in "The Magic Flute" -- a serious story with comedy, low-class theater
with Masonic symbolism, popular styles with some of Mozart's most glorious
music -- has left many questions for modern musicologists and critics to dispute:
What does it all mean? Why do the good guys and the bad guys seem to change
halfway through? Is there a secret message for Mozart's and Schickaneder's
Whatever the answers, audiences have loved to see and
hear "The Magic Flute" as much as academics have loved to discuss its meanings.
The first production was a great success, running for many months. It was
one of Mozart's favorite pieces: he took his rival Salieri as his guest to
one performance, and on other occasions he stood in the wings and played tricks
on Schickaneder, who was performing as Papageno. Later, as Mozart lay on his
deathbed he would look at his watch, so he would know which scene was playing
in Schickaneder's theater.
"The Magic Flute" was soon published, and performances
were given throughout Europe. In modern Hollywood fashion there was even a
sequel -- by Mozart's forgettable contemporary Peter Winter. The sequel has
been forgotten, but "The Magic Flute" remains one of the most popular operas
with productions all around the world.
Guest artists in the cast will be Lyle Lichty from the
Cornell College faculty as Sarastro and Emily Truckenbrod, a recent graduate
of the School of Music, as the Queen of the Night.
Student cast members of the UI production will include
John Des Marais and Jennifer Valle as Tamino and Pamina, respectively; and
Joss Nichols and Sarah Schmitt as Papageno and Papagena. The slave Monostatos
will be sung by Oliver Stoutner. The three ladies will be Ashley Stockwell,
Ann Cravero and Rachel Andrews. The three boys will be Darlene Enke, Rachel
Brogan and Christine Hayes.
Other artistic contributors to the production are lighting
designer Marcus Dilliard, chorus director Rebecca Seeman and assistant director
Originally from Milwaukee, Theisen is now a New York-based
free-lance director. He has worked for theater and opera companies across
the United States and has served as a guest director, teacher and lecturer
for Carnegie Mellon University, the North Carolina School of the Arts, Marquette
University, St. Ambrose University, Ohio Northern University and the University
of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, among others.
Theisen's professional credits include "Over the Moon
with Gilbert and Sullivan" at Skylight Opera Theatre, "H.M.S. Pinafore" with
Virginia Opera, "The Coronation of Poppea" for Opera Pacific, "The Mikado"
for Kentucky Opera, "Carmen" at Cleveland Opera, "Iolanthe" for North Carolina
Music Theatre and "Falsettos" at Virginia Stage Company. He worked with Theatre
for Young Audiences programs writing adaptations of "West Side Story/Romeo
and Juliet," "The Snow Queen" and "Winnie the Pooh."
Theisen spent three years
as artistic director of the Capitol Center for the Performing Arts in upstate
New York, and in the 1995-96 season served as the director of apprentice artists
with Opera Pacific. His future engagements include directing "The Pearl Fishers"
at Cleveland Opera, "H.M.S.
Pinafore" with Skylight Opera and Seaside Music Theatre,
"The Barber of Seville" with Virginia Opera and the summer opera scenes program
at Portland State University. He is also engaged to perform the role of Tevye
in "Fiddler on the Roof" at Skylight Opera Theater.
Richard Boldrey is a free-lance vocal coach, accompanist
and conductor. He is on the staff at Lyric Opera of Chicago and at Northwestern
University. He is currently a visiting assistant professor in the UI School
He is the author of the "Guide to Operatic Roles and Arias"
and "Guide to Operatic Duets," and is music editor of "Singers' Edition,"
a new 27-volume opera anthology published by Pst
Inc in Dallas, Texas.
He is also music director at Temple Chai in Long Grove, Ill.
Boldrey has worked privately with many world renowned
singers, including Luciano Pavarotti, Robert Merrill, Grace Bumbry, Tom Krause
and June Anderson. He served as assistant conductor of the Chicago Symphony
Chorus from 1972 to 1977, soloed with the Chicago Symphony with conductor
Carlo Maria Giulini, and was assistant conductor at the Lyric Opera of Chicago
from 1981 to 1987. Other professional positions have included music director
of the Colorado Lyric Theatre Festival in Boulder, music director and principal
conductor of Opera Southwest in Albuquerque, and a maestro at the Bel Canto
Festival in Busseto, Italy. He has been keyboardist with the Chicago Music
of the Baroque since 1977.
A UI music alumnus, Jones joined the faculty of the School
of Music in 1997 as director of the University Symphony and director of orchestral
studies. Jones is a highly honored musician, having received the Twin Cities
Mayors' Public Art Award, the American String Teachers Association Exceptional
Leadership and Merit Award and the David W. Preuss Leadership Award. He has
also been selected Musician of the Year by Sigma Alpha Iota, a music honorary
Jones is conductor of the Bloomington (Minn.) Symphony
and has appeared as a guest conductor with the Minnesota Orchestra, the St.
Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Sinfonie Orchester AML-Luzern (Switzerland) and
other orchestras around the world. He has conducted all-state and festival
orchestras in 46 states and five Canadian provinces. He has been conductor-in-residence
at the North Carolina School of the Arts and the University of Miami (Fla.).
Tickets for "The Magic Flute" are $15, $10 and $8 ($9,
$7 and $5 for UI students, seniors and youth), and are available from the
Hancher Auditorium box office. Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling
area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western
Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be
charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their
purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the
option of payroll deduction.
People with special needs
for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319)
335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to
offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating,
hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for
people with hearing impairment who use that technology.
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr
on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/