The Canadian Opera Company is bringing The Magic Flute to the stage from January 19 to February 24, and Dora Award-nominated director Ashlie Corcoran is at the helm. We got her to give us the scoop on this whimsical opera – one of the most popular in the world.
- The Magic Flute is about a prince named Tamino who undergoes a series of tests in order to be united with his love, Pamina. At first he is joined by Papageno, an endearing sidekick, but eventually Tamino overcomes these tests with Pamina at his side. It is a great mixture of fantasy, romance, buddy flick and comedy – and it is all wrapped up in some of the most gorgeous music ever composed.
- This opera is a singspiel, which means that there are dialogue scenes in between the arias, duets, etc. We’ve had a lot of fun mining these scenes for physical comedy. Also, the libretto (the spoken and sung words) was written by Emanuel Schikaneder. He originally played the goofy and charming sidekick Papageno himself and definitely wrote himself some scene-stealing moments!
- Many of the cast members, répétiteurs (pianists) and myself are graduates of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio (the young artist training program). Many of the other singers are artists who have appeared on the COC stage many times before, so it really feels like “old home week.” We’ve been rehearsing over the holidays, so while it is hard to think of one particular fun or unusual thing that has happened in our rehearsal hall, I know we all feel fortunate to come into such a fun, playful and friendly rehearsal hall every day.
- This production is actually a play-within-a play. I love this, as it leaves so much room for theatricality, cheekiness and playfulness. During the overture, we set up the overall idea: a nobleman of the Enlightenment is throwing a name day celebration for his daughter. The highlight of the party is a performance of The Magic Flute. Everyone at the party – guests, servants, and the nobleman himself – pitch in to tell this beloved story. The chorus is on stage, watching the opera unfold on a tiny jewel box theatre. We get to play with all sorts of fun tropes of theatre, opera and pantomime. But, as the story becomes more real to the guests, they go deeper into the nobleman’s gardens and play out the second act with ever-increasing commitment.
- If you’ve never been to an opera, you will be amazed by how accessible the story, music and production all are. If you are already an opera connoisseur, you will be thrilled by the stunning singing and playful and committed acting of our incredible cast.