Performance brings ‘Magic’ to the stage

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 9, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; All the entertaining elements of musical theater come together in the Natchez Opera Festival’s production of &uot;The Magic Flute,&uot; to be performed at 8 p.m. Saturday at Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center.

Stage director Bill Fabris of New York City has moved the setting of the popular work by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart from its original Egyptian backdrop to &uot;a playground of the Greek gods where mortals and deities interact.&uot;

&uot;Zeus plays Sarastro; Hera, the Queen of the Night; Prince Paris, Tamino; Helen of Troy, Pamina; and Papageno is Pan or Faunus,&uot; Fabris said.

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&uot;The story stays the same; our young hero Tamino is in search of true love, and his tribulations in achieving this goal provide the main plot.&uot;

Put simply, the love story central to the plot follows Tamino, played by Jason Karn, and Pamina, played by Amy Synatzske, as they meet one another, endure obstacles thrown in their paths and overcome the hardships, finally finding themselves together.

For Karn, the role of Tamino has been exciting, he said. &uot;I love this role. Tamino starts out as a boy and then goes through the trials and becomes a man.&uot;

Deciding as an actor-singer how and when to make that transition from &uot;the almost childlike wonderment of the boy to the more stoic man&uot; has been a challenge.

Synatzske faced the same kinds of dilemmas with Pamina. &uot;I didn’t want her to be precious and cute,&uot; she said. &uot;I find her to be very strong. It was hard at first to figure out who she is.&uot;

As she and Karn became immersed in the roles, they found the characters &uot;like a tale of two kids growing up,&uot; Synatzske said. &uot;They had to face their mortality. Tamino and Pamina are like the ideals of man and woman, seeking truth, justice and kindness.&uot;

Fabris said, however, no matter how one might try to simplify the story, the opera &uot;remains a rich, complex, multi-layered masterpiece so protean that it can, and no doubt will continue to be interpreted in many different ways.&uot;

The story of Pamina and Tamino is interwoven with the &uot;unheroic story of Papageno the birdcatcher, a custody battle between Sarastro and the Queen for Pamina, and the exposition of the high ideals of Sarastro’s kingdom,&uot; Fabris said.

For two hundred years, &uot;The Magic Flute&uot; has been an audience’s delight and a box office success.

With its spoken lines, the work technically might not qualify to be called an opera, some music historians say. Indeed, the musical drama more appropriately can be labeled a &uot;singspiel,&uot; or &uot;song play.&uot;

No matter. Performances of &uot;The Magic Flute,&uot; first performed in 1791 and the last opera completed by Mozart, have proven the endurance of the music and the universal humanity in the story line.

&uot;Mozart wrote this for the people, the everyday people and not the rich. They’d come with picnic baskets to see it,&uot; Fabris said. &uot;It is pure entertainment.&uot;

As well known producer Gunther Rennert said, the work is a fairytale, a timeless allegory and true musical theater.

&uot;The real greatness of a classical work is shown in the wealth of its inner possibilities, in the strength of its power to exert an abiding influence and provide each generation with an allegory, an outline of the tensions common to humanity, or to make a modern problem visible in the mirror of history,&uot; he said.

Good triumphs over evil. Light conquers darkness. And, of course, love conquers all.