Set Design: Christopher Mumaw
Lighting Design: Marnie Cumings
Costume Design: Candace Frank
English Spoken Text Adaptation:  Karen Hartman
Conductor: Stephen Stubbs
All photos copyright Alabastro Photography

Mozart, Die Zauberflöte
Pacific MusicWorks
Meany Hall
2015
 

PMW’s latest project, which ran through May 10, offered a fresh perspective on The Magic Flute by combining period instruments with a provocatively anti-traditional staging. Dan Wallace Miller was the director... The revamped libretto and stage direction worked together to sharpen the humor in moments that all too often pass by as tedious stage business thanks to overexposure and/or clumsy translations.

But there was also a deliciously ironic layer of humor to subvert the many received ideas that tend to get trotted out with any performance of Mozart’s deceptively simple opera. The juxtaposition of colloquial English dialogue with the original German for the sung words underlined the friction between the world of everyday desires and high-toned artifice, between unpretentious entertainment and idealized, “serious art,” that the production intrepidly explored. Sarastro’s enigmatic relationship to the Queen of the Night (dubbed “Starfire” in another nod to pop culture) and to her daughter Pamina turned out to be the true source of deception. In addition to their trials by fire and water, Tamino and Pamina were shown to undergo an additional turn of the screw in Miller’s and Hartman’s revisionist denouement. The Queen of the Night was defeated in her final attack, but she managed to unmask Sarastro as a fraud, freeing the way for the young couple to determine their own path unbiased by the influence of the old guard.
Director Dan Wallace Miller’s concept works well with the new translation, and he moves the characters adroitly around the stage in high-energy and imaginative action.