Jan 20, 2009

Liberty brings magic to Mozart’s final opera

by Emily Defosse, Life! Reporter

“The Magic Flute” immerses audiences into a fantasy world of unusual creatures, a captive princess, a benevolent king and a valiant youth in the Liberty Theatre Department’s production of Mozart’s final opera. The production opened Thursday night at the Lloyd Theatre under the direction of professor of music Dr. Wayne Kompelien.

According to Kompelien, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote “The Magic Flute” in 1791, the final year of his life. Over 200 years later it is one of the top 10 most performed operas around the world.
Kompelien described the opera as a German Singspiel (pronounced Zing-spiel). Singspiels are the predecessor of modern day musical theater because unlike most operas, Singspiels include spoken dialogue.

“I love the music,” Kompelien said. “Mozart’s music is great. This opera is really good to see. It is very demanding but not asking too much.”
“The Magic Flute” takes place in a fantasy world where nothing is as it seems. Kompelien describes it as a classic good vs. evil plot with its roots in German story telling like the Brother Grimm fairytales.
The cast began rehearsing last semester but, according to Kompelien, one of the most challenging things about putting this production together has been getting it ready to perform so early in the semester.

He said that the student performers have risen to the challenges, however, and are ready to show off their powerful voices to audiences. In fact, some roles are so demanding they require two actors in order for the students to rest their voices.

Joel Taylor is one of two actors who plays the bird-man, Papageno. He said getting the scenes to flow smoothly and combining the principle actors and chorus members proved to be another challenge.

Kompelien said one of the greatest rewards of doing this opera has been “seeing the growth in the students as they have learned the roles and as they have developed into performing singers.”

Chad Somers plays Monostotos, a character he describes as “a monster-man who holds the princess captive.”

“The opera is about Prince Tamino who is lost in the woods and is commissioned by three mysterious women and a mysterious goddess of the night to rescue her daughter from the clutches of an evil fiend who comes out to be a benevolent character, Sorastro,” Somers said.
“In the meantime she is being held captive by Monostotos.”

John East plays the wise ruler, Sorastro.

“It’s a classic good vs. evil storyline that is very light. It is a great opera to start out with,” East said.

The cast has worked to make the opera more enjoyable to students who may be less than eager to see opera.

“When people think opera, they think too high but this is a comedy,” East said.

“One of the hardest things is to make this approachable for people who don’t normally see operas,” Somers said. “We’ve cut out some of the slow parts, so it’s slightly abridged.”

Kompelien says that he wants to encourage students to come out and experience the opera expose themselves to new experiences.

For more information about performance times and ticket information contact the Liberty Theatre Department at (434) 582-2085 or stop by the box office in the Performing Arts Hall.

Contact Emily DeFosse at

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