Opera Colorado’s The Magic Flute

I had my second opera experience last night at Opera Colorado’s Season Opening Gala performance of The Magic Flute.  I was blown away by my first opera experience in May and had high expectations for last night.  Even though I was completely exhausted from the week, I had a great time.


We arrived at about 5:30 with my folks, Dave Jilk and Maureen Amundson, Wendy Lea and Chris Byrne.  Wendy and Chris have become major opera fanatics in the past year (e.g. weekend in NY where they saw four operas in 30 hours), Dave and Maureen lost their opera virginity with us in May, and my dad will use any excuse to wear his tuxedo (“Brad – can I wear my tux to the basketball game?”)  Entertainingly, both Chris and I had brand new tuxes for the event which just happened to be exactly the same make and cut.

The pre-opera event – which included dinner and lasted until 8:15 – was magnificently done.  It was definitely a Denver crowd – and a beautiful one at that.  The food was excellent and the setting “magical.”

When we sat down to watch the opera, I quickly tried to read the synopsis (I hadn’t read the libretto in advance – bad me.)  It was incomprehensible to me – I couldn’t decide if it was me (I was too tired) or Mozart.  I decided to just settle in and roll with it. 

The production was superb.  The Ellie Caulkins Opera House is an excellent theater – extremely comfortable – and our seats were front and center (12 rows back – exactly in the middle.)  The Magic Flute is one of Mozart’s most well known operas and was completed near the end of his life, so it’s the culmination of a lot of his genius. I once again found myself entranced by the combination of things going on – the acting, singing, choreography, language (German), translation (subtitles on the seat backs), character development, and plot which – while relatively simple – requires some thought when it’s unfolding in another language as all the other things are going on simultaneously.

I was really tired from the week (note to self – opera late on Friday night is a challenge) so I found myself drifting near the end of the first act, especially during the slower segments.  A diet coke at intermission pepped me back up and I stayed engaged all the way through the second act (no snoring from me) which ended at 11:30.  Thankfully Amy drove home, so I slept in the car on the drive back from Denver.

Once again Opera Colorado did a great job.  I look forward to my next opera experience.

  • sigma

    ‘The Magic Flute’ is a total cute, sweetheart opera, full of traditional attitudes to love and marriage, a ‘romantic comedy’ opera. It is also full of ‘ritual’ even before John Ford movies! Sarastro is something of a scary guy.

    Some parts may be politically incorrect now, but we set those aside and enjoy the music!

    The music is magnificent Mozart throughout, with traditional harmonies and, thus, easy to listen to yet full of novelty, inventiveness, and effectiveness.

    Several of the arias are among the most famous in opera, e.g., just in the first act, (1) laid-back, goof-off, sugar-bread eating, skirt-chasing, exaggerating, prevaricating Papagano, ‘The Bird Catcher Am I, Yes’, (2) serious Tamino and the ‘Bildness’ aria, ‘This Portrait is Enchantingly Beautiful’, where he sees a picture and instantly falls in love, (3) the Queen of the Night, ‘O zittre nicht’, ‘Oh, do not tremble’, which is one of the most famous ‘bel canto’ (beautiful singing) arias, (4) the Pamina-Papagano duet ‘Wir wollen uns der liebe freun’, ‘We want to enjoy love’. Evelyn Lear as Pamina singing me awake each morning — I’m in love!

    It goes on this way, nearly every aria in the opera is famous.

    There’s also some nice choral music.

    I first saw it in Bloomington and later some number of times at Lincoln Center. A crown jewel of civilization.