November 30, 2013 was a truly spectacular night. For some people it might have been sitting at home and watching TV. For others it might have been flying somewhere on a plane. But for some it was watching Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Die Zauberflote at the LA Opera. The production was a very exotic one; not what most people expect when going to a Mozart opera. What do we know about Die Zauberflote? It's about an impossible love which becomes possible. The Queen of the Night (sung by the fabulous Erika Miklosa) needed to overpower Sarastro (sung by the entrancing Evan Boyer). Tamino (the great Lawrence Brownlee) was only a pawn in her plan when Pamina (sung by the fantastical Janai Brugger) and Tamino fell in love. The story is really a heart-wrenching one and ends with good defeating evil.
As you might tell from the photos, the production was rare. It was an interaction between the singers and a movie playing behind them. The images in the movie layered up with the singers standing on stage and a beautiful coordination of "alive" and "not alive" was formed. When Pamina attempted to escape Monostatos's (Rodell Rosel) captivity, all Ms. Brugger was doing was standing on a platform a few feet above the stage level while Mr. Rosel was standing on the stage. The audience saw Pamina standing in the dead end of a cave with vicious dogs dragging Monostatos forward as he held the chains to prevent them from tearing Pamina to shreds. And how did that happen? The movie playing over the singers made this extremely fun to watch, although I did feel like the musicality and tactile connection between the singers were lost.
At the very beginning, Tamino was running away from a huge serpent. Was there a cardboard snake with people inside of it running around the stage. We always laugh at the "dragons" with human legs, running around in circles and stomping. The media effects added this breathtaking, delusional experience to the audience.
The vocal performance was great. I especially enjoyed Rodion Pogossov as Papageno and Janai Brugger as Pamina. The three ladies were very conspicuous in their singing and acting. The Queen of the Night had the perfect coloratura needed for the role, but the huge spider body projected onto her distracted me and I missed most of her first aria, O Zittre Nicht, Mein Lieber Sohn. Mr. Boyer had that rich, low tone we all want for the perfect Sarastro. All I can say is that I was satisfied with the singing very much. The movie got a bit old at some point, but I was never bored and don't believe anyone was sitting in the audience.
Find the whole cast listed here.