Mozart Magic Marvels the Midstate

November 20, 2010 No Comments

Mozart Magic Marvels the Midstate
by Larry Kellum

The young but prolific Mozart died shortly after the premiere of his last opera “The Magic Flute”. Presented by the Conn. Lyric Opera, this delightful masterpiece started its statewide tour on Nov.12 when it opened at New Britain’s Trinity-on-Main, and appeared the following evening at Middletown Performing Arts Center. The work is known as a singspiel – ie arias sung in German and the dialogue spoken (nowadays in English) to accomodate modern audiences.

Neither dark nor frivolous like most of this composer’s comedies, “Flute” is still typical Mozart — a huge ensemble cast of characters, at least two being sopranos, and one of those being an angry one. The vengeful Queen of the Night is virtually impossible to cast correctly. Her coloratura rantings and ravings take her all the way up to piercing high F’s – a note rarely found in most soprano roles – yet the part, albeit short, also demands the vehemence of a big Turandot voice. Liane Grasso had the Fs, but not the imperial thrust, thus reducing the stature and ferocity of the role. In contrast, her daughter, the gentle Pamina, was sung by Lyric Opera’s resident diva Jurate Svedaite. Like the young Mirella Freni, she refreshingly .brings to Mozart the same buttery, creamy sound that she brings to her Puccini and Verdi. The same can be said for her Tamino, tenor Michael Wade Lee, who also brought matinee idol good looks to the part.

The other male singers were all in good voice. Laurentiu Rotaru’s basement low notes stood out as Sarastro, as did Matthew Gamble’s boyish charm as Papageno. Everyone onstage was beautifully or creatively costumed, and skillfully directed by Michael Philip Davis, son of the celebrity Metropolitan Opera mezzo Regina Resnik. As with all Conn. Lyric Opera productions, the Conn. Virtuosi Chamber  is the orchestra of choice, and under the baton of Adrian Sylveen, they positively glowed, sparkled and twinkled thru Mozart’s enchanting score.

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