Imagine Mozart and his librettist Schikaneder enlisting the help of a contemporary dramaturg to pitch their singspiel The Magic Flute to the American public. This unlikely premise was exactly what Boston Lyric Opera was going for with their world premiere of a new English adaptation of Mozart’s famous opera. Bolder than most, the new production featured a more comprehensive backstory, altered geographic setting, clearer symbolism, and delightful English lyrics. The stage décor was enchanting, the costumes eye-catching, and the singing breathtaking. 222 years after its premiere, Mozart’s opera sounds incredibly fresh in this ingenious reimagining, delivering its potent mix of jovial humor and nuggets of wisdom with a renewed vitality, and a surprising up-to-date relevance. Attending the BLO’s production of The Magic Flute made for a spectacular night at the opera, at once entertaining and inspiring.
Telling a sweeping tale of the struggle for the throne in tsarist Russia, Dimitrij clocks in at nearly four hours across four acts. This rare opera, chosen and conducted by artistic director Gil Rose of Odyssey Opera, is epic, luscious, and riveting to the last note. It truly lives up to its genre.
Quite a bit of thought was put into the libretto and the performance itself — for such a philosophical novel, this adaptation is palatable for audience members who have not read the source material. In the lecture prior to the performance, Liebermann commented that he was particularly cautious while writing because he wanted the opera to be self-sufficient, not even requiring the program notes to understand the story.
“The people of Edinburgh aren’t… dying… QUICKLY ENOUGH!!!” Here cry the despairing voices of the schools of anatomy. The cadavers are running low, so study is restricted. Gravedigging is illegal, and only those who die as criminals or as otherwise properly indicated by the state are allowed to be sold for science, so supply is limited.
Think of a modern, raunchy rom-com, or every time a novel was censored for mature content, or go to the past and think of Voltaire’s Candide. And now think about opera, the soprano’s voice echoing through the hall, the audience’s impeccable suits and dresses, and the richness of the orchestral music. Put the two together, plus an overt confrontation against capitalism, and we have 'The Threepenny Opera.'