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Syracuse University’s Setnor School of Music will present ‘The Magic Flute’ April 18 and 19
Syracuse University’s Setnor School of Music will present ‘The Magic Flute’ April 18 and 19April 06, 2001Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
Syracuse University’s Rose, Jules R. and Stanford S. Setnor School of Music will present Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” at 8 p.m. April 18 and 19 in The Underground of the Schine Student Center. Tickets–$10 for general admission; $7 for SU students, faculty and staff; and $5 for Arts Adventure subscribers–are available at the Schine Box Office or by calling 443-4517. The production is the first full-length opera presented at SU in several years, says Eileen Strempel, director of the school’s opera workshop and assistant professor of voice. Strempel is co-directing the opera with Susan Appel, assistant professor in the Drama Department. The opera will be conducted by guest conductor Thomas Carlo Bo of New York City. The presentation of “The Magic Flute” is an interdisciplinary effort, involving faculty, staff and students from the Setnor School of Music and the Departments of Drama and Design in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and the Department of Retail Management and Design Technologies in the College for Human Development. The opera is a first-time collaboration for most of the faculty members who are involved; most have never been involved with an opera. Many of the design students had never seen an opera before they began working on “The Magic Flute.” “The project is bringing together people from all across the campus community,” Strempel says. “While we are all extraordinarily sensitive to the primal importance of telling the story, we come to the project from different disciplines, with different perspectives and different points of view. The mix, however, has resulted in a wonderfully fun working environment within which we are experiencing this piece in new and exciting ways.” Strempel’s and Appel’s novel interpretation of “The Magic Flute” is designed to appeal to a contemporary audience raised on MTV. The story unfolds in Pamina’s dream and is told from a feminist point of view. The protagonists Pamina, played by Brenda McDonald, and Tamino, played by Christian Figuero, embark on a spiritual journey of self-discovery, facing their trials within a surreal place that is both familiar and unknown.
“This is not a conservative, museum-piece production,” Strempel says. “It’s kind of racy, sexy and fun, and one that will hopefully enable the audience to think about the story in a new way.” The characters’ surrealistic, dream-like experiences are reinforced for the audience through the use of a multimedia digital set, designed by fourth- and fifth-year industrial design students under the tutelage of Denise Heckman, assistant professor of design. The set combines some of the latest computer, film and photographic technologies to produce a series of projected images that transport the audience through space and time as they accompany Pamina and Tamino on their journey. “The set is designed to evoke emotional responses from the audience,” Heckman says. “We’re producing theater using interface technologies. Rather than using a ‘brick-and-mortar’ set to put people in a place, we’re using the technologies in ways that will make the audience feel the places.” “The technology is being used to support the telling of the story–a timeless story of self-discovery, passion and human enlightenment,” says Appel, who has been helping the students hone their acting skills and choreograph their movements across the stage. “The opera singers are being told to forget tradition, to take risks and to abandon everything they have been taught–to move out of their comfort zone. “As far as we know, no one has ever before presented “The Magic Flute” in this way,” Appel continues. “The production is a wonderful mix of high technology and the lowest technology possible–the human instrument. We have people singing and acting on stage against a high-tech background that is designed to bring the audience closer to the human experience.” The opera will be sung in German with subtitles, but the dialogue will be in English. Students auditioned for the parts last fall and spent several months learning to sing in German, Strempel says. The singers will be accompanied by a student orchestra, under the direction of Andrew Waggoner, director of the Setnor School of Music. The Degas Quartet, the school’s graduate quartet-in-residence, will form the orchestra’s core. They will be joined by second violins Naoko Shizume and Jessica Kielb, Katie Apple on flute, Andrea Armbruster on clarinet, and Chris Notarthomas on bass. Costumes were designed by fashion design majors Vanessa Laub and Jamie Braden under the guidance of fashion designer Jeffrey Mayer, associate professor in the College for Human Development. The stage lighting will be designed by Kelly Lane under the auspices of Alexander Koziara, assistant professor of design technology in the Drama Department. Sophomore Melissa Geller and Dianna Angell, adjunct instructor in the Drama Department, will head the stage management team.