By Taylor Tweedell
Hello everybody! I had the amazing opportunity to chat with the wonderful cast of The Muddy River Opera Company’s The Magic Flute as they were rehearsing for their upcoming shows June 15 and 16. This group of people is one of the most compatible I have ever seen! They welcomed me in and everyone had something special to say about the show and the rehearsal process. This group reminded me of how important it is to do what you love and enjoy what you do, which was very refreshing. The passion that this cast shares for opera inspired me as I talked to them in their rehearsal and is sure to inspire audience members who come out to witness their talent.
The Magic Flute is the fairytale story of Prince Tamino (Dr. Richard Leonberger of Austin State University) who must rescue Princess Pamina (Dr. Penelope Shumate of WIU). He is assisted in his quest by the bird-catcher (Dr. Steven Soebbing of JWCC) and together they undergo trials. An evil queen (Amanda Saul Ensign, WIU graduate college) introduces a good versus evil dynamic to the plot of this show, which also contains humorous and romantic elements.
"This opera was written by Mozart during the Enlightenment period, which is evident through the discoveries made by the prince and the bird-catcher as they experience hardships on their journey," said Director Mark Freiman.
The Muddy River Opera Company has done several unique things with their version of this famous opera. One of the most impressive things is the makeup of their cast. This cast is a combination of professionals, children, local musicians and students.
"This variety helps to cultivate an environment where performers can learn from each other and grow together," Freiman said. "This show is also special because of the roles the children play in the production. There are three spirits in this show who are all played by children. These roles are often filled by women, but the Muddy River Opera seeks to involve younger generations in their shows, something that not all productions or performing groups value. A full orchestra will accompany the cast as they perform this Mozart fairytale."
Freiman said that this show is a great one to see if you have never seen an opera before. The children in this cast add an ethereal element and are inspirational to young audience members. The story is also an easy one to follow and contains characters that are humorous and educational, making it the perfect first-opera experience!
This opera was originally written in German, but the MROC will be performing the English translation. There is also spoken dialogue in this show—a rare thing in opera-- which allows for the performers to showcase their acting abilities and makes the story even more relatable and understandable.
Thirty minutes before each show, Dr. Carol Mathieson will give an opera insight presentation on idealism in the Enlightenment period and explain how an opera that was written in the 18th century can still entertain audiences today.
This is the Muddy River Opera’s third opera in the reimagining of their company. They are currently in the process of keeping opera going and loved in a changing world.
The show will be held at the John Wood Community College’s Mary Ellen Orr Auditorium, which is an excellent venue for singing. The theatre is intimate as well, allowing cast members to move into the audience and bring viewers closer to the action. The theater is comfortable and casual and will hold performances for The Magic Flute on Friday, June 15 at 7 pm and Saturday, June 16 at 3 pm. Tickets are $20 at the door or in advance at both Quincy County Market stores. You can buy tickets online by clicking here. For more information, visit muddyriveropera.org.