Skip to main content
2019-2020 Season

Dramaturg's Note for The Magic Flute

An image of a stage

"This is the problem with language, and this is what makes silent movies fun, because the connection with them, me or the audience is not with the language. There’s no question of interpretation of what we are saying it’s just about feeling. You create your own story.”

Michel Hazanavicius

The only difference between opera and silent film is color.

When I think of my favorite silent films, I think of intense emotions, exaggerated expressions, lavish costumes, grandiose sets, and exotic destinations. The exact same could be said of my favorite operas. The most obvious similarity, however, is also the least tangible. It’s the magic. It’s the sheer drama and scale that whisks you away into a new world of fantasy and adventure, a world where you read the lines in your head and match it to what’s happening in front of you. A world where gestures and expressions that you would never see in real life somehow feel authentic and appropriate. A world of magic that invites you to believe, replacing logic and rules with feeling and play.

An image that says a night at the opera

The geography of this world has been at the very heart of its concept since the beginning of production. The script references a number of Egyptian gods, but the decision was made early on not to set the play specifically in Egypt. However, the art deco nods in the design of the show cleverly point to famous movie houses of the 1920s, such as Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, the site of the first ever film premiere, or the nearby Steiner Egyptian Theatre in Park City built in 1926 and still used for Sundance premieres today.


The power of place (or lack thereof) pervades even further, though. “Where am I?” These are the first spoken words of The Magic Flute. It is a question asked often, but never answered. Likewise, the production references a myriad of cultures to create a dazzling kaleidoscope of placelessness. Because he doesn’t know where he is, Tamino is forced to come into his own, as there are no prescribed protocols for him to hide behind. Likewise we, as the heroes of our own journey, must do the same in order to truly understand ourselves. Our trials may not look like Tamino’s. In place of fire and water they may be loss of loved ones or spiritual doubt. In place of silence our trials may be mental illness or unemployment. No matter the journey, stories like the Magic Flute promise us a great reward if we can stay the course. Just like in the classic films, good prevails, evil is vanquished, and the hero is all the better for his struggles.

It is my pleasure to invite you into a world where winged spirits roam free, where flutes call animals and thunder calls Queens, and where serpents devour men in a single gulp. All of this and more is just behind our curtain, in brilliant technicolor.

Vielen Dank und Viel Spaß bei der Vorstellung!

by Daniel Mesta, dramaturg

Related Articles

data-content-type="article"

Presents and Presence

December 03, 2022 08:05 AM
One of the first things many people think of when they hear the word Christmas is gifts. Gifts and Christmas have been interchangeable for a very long time in our world’s history. But over time, what people think of as gifts has shifted. Each new era or generation defines it differently. There were monetary gifts such as gold, frankincense, and myrrh in the days of Christ, when all things were handcrafted and only the wealthiest of people could have precious ore or spices from distant lands. Or perhaps, during the great wars of the twentieth century, a gift of war bonds was precious when patriotism and the survival of the world made things like toys seem trivial to many. Now, everyone wants the latest iPhone or the newest technology. Throughout our lives, what we want also changes. Gifts shift from toys, games, and candy to technology or clothes–all inconsequential things that provide short-term entertainment. However, all of these things fade and have less impact on our true joy. Joy can really be found in the simple things of life.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection= overrideCardHideByline= overrideCardHideDescription= overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"

Cultural Exchanges

December 03, 2022 07:15 AM
During planning for Christmas Around the World, Jeanette reached out to people who had the opportunity to tour and represent the United States this summer. I had the opportunity to go to tour in Spain with American Rhythm and the opportunities we had to meet people and learn about their cultures and their experiences, were truly incredible. We were asked about our experiences with meeting other people and what it was like to share cultural gifts with them. These questions were used to get answers from dancers and their answers were in the videos and audio you will see and hear throughout the show. These are the more detailed versions of my personal answers.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection= overrideCardHideByline= overrideCardHideDescription= overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"

Gifts of Music and Cultures: Poland

December 02, 2022 10:02 PM
Throughout our time in Spain we had the opportunity to meet so many people from all around the world. From Mexico, Poland, Bulgaria, and of course Spain, we were able to meet so many amazing people and make so many amazing connections. We didn’t all speak the same language, many of them didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak many of their languages. So relying on the power of song and dance, we were able to connect through different aspects.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection= overrideCardHideByline= overrideCardHideDescription= overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=