New production of Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ for San Francisco Opera

Christina Gansch as Pamina and Lauri Vasar as Papageno in Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

This evening, San Francisco Opera presents a new staging of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte), led by Music Director Eun Sun Kim.

The production stars New Zealand-Samoan tenor Amitai Pati as Tamino, the prince who has to surmount various challenges to be united with Pamina, a role taken by Austrian soprano Christina Gansch. Estonian bass-baritone Lauri Vasar sings the role of the bird-catcher Papageno, South Korean bass Kwangchul Youn is Sarastro, leader of a brotherhood that values wisdom above all, and Polish soprano Anna Simińska is the Queen of the Night who enlists Tamino to rescue her daughter – all three making their house debuts.

 Amitai Pati as Tamino in Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

This award-winning production of the Komische Oper Berlin, co-produced by Los Angeles Opera and Minnesota Opera, is by Barrie Kosky and Suzanne Andrade. Written by Mozart as a singspiel – featuring the spoken word as well as singing – the opera in this production has been inspired by the silent film era and 1920’s Berlin cabaret, with early Hollywood-style animation and inter titles replacing the spoken dialogue. The Los Angeles Times describes it as “a wonderful show … great for opera lovers, newbies and the whole family; great for Mozart; great for reminding us of the wonders of silent cinema”. Staged by revival director Tobias Ribitzki, the production has been designed by Esther Bialas, with animation design by Paul Barritt.

Christina Gansch as Pamina and Zhengyi Bai as Monostatos in Mozart’s
‘The Magic Flute’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Mozart wrote The Magic Flute in 1791, just three months before his death. One of his most popular works, it has a German libretto by Austrian actor and theatrical producer Emanuel Schikaneder, who was director of the theater where the opera had its first performances, and who created the role of Papageno. The Magic Flute appears to be a simple fairy tale about a damsel in distress who is rescued by a handsome prince, but it’s actually a story of the search for wisdom and enlightenment. It premiered at the Theater auf der Wieden near Vienna on September 30, 1791, and today is frequently performed around the world.

Amitai Pati as Tamino (center) with Thomas Kinch and James McCarthy (the Armored Men) in Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Amitai Pati, a former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, first appeared for San Francisco Opera as Don Ottavio in the Company’s 2022 production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. In recent seasons, he has also appeared as Ferrando in Mozart’s Così fan tutte at Tanglewood, Tamino in Montpellier and has taken leading roles in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette and Verdi’s La Traviata in Europe. He is also a member of the award-winning New Zealand vocal group Sol3 Mio with his brother Pene Pati and cousin Moses Mackay.

Lauri Vasar as Papageno, Christina Gansch as Pamina, and Zhengyi Bai as Monostatos in Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Christina Gansch is well remembered for her appearances in SF Opera’s 2019 presentation of Handel’s Orlando and her return as Zerlina in Don Giovanni. An experienced Mozartian, Gansch has appeared as Servilia in the composer’s La Clemenza di Tito with London’s Royal Opera, Covent Garden and in Salzburg earlier this year.
 
Highlights of this current season for Lauri Vasar include appearances as Orest in Richard Strauss’ Elektra, John the Baptist in Strauss’ Salome at the State Opera Berlin, and as the Count of Gloster in Aribert Reimann’s Lear at the Teatro Real in Madrid.

Amitai Pati as Tamino, Kwangchul Youn as Sarastro, Christina Gansch as Pamina, and Zhengyi Bai as Monostatos in Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Kwangchul Youn, a highly regarded interpreter of Wagner’s music dramas, is well known in the world of international opera and concert hall. This year, he has appeared in the role of Jacopo Fiesco in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegro at the Wiener Staatsoper, as Hunding in a Wagner Gala at the Festspielhaus in Baden Baden and as Gurnemanz in Wagner’s Parsifal at Houston Grand Opera.

Anna Simińska is the Queen of the Night, a role which she has performed around the world in major theaters including Opéra national de Paris, Vienna Staatsoper, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Hamburg Staatsoper, Washington National Opera, Staatsoper Berlin, Opéra de Montréal, and Oper Frankfurt.

Amitai Pati as Tamino in Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Also in the cast are former Adler Fellow tenor Zhengyi Bai as Monostatos, current Adler soprano Olivia Smith and mezzo-sopranos Ashley Dixon, a former Adler, and Maire Therese Carmack, making her Company debut. Current Adlers Arianna Rodriguez (Papagena), Jongwon Han (the Speaker), Thomas Kinch and James McCarthy (the Armored Men) and three boy sopranos Niko Min, Solah Malik and Jacob Rainow (the three spirits) complete the cast.

Eun Sun Kim leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus (Director John Keene) in nine performances of Mozart’s The Magic Flute between May 30 and June 30 at the War Memorial Opera House. Performances are sung in German with English supertitles. Further information and details of ticketing can be found on the San Francisco Opera website.
 

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Opera program notes
Encyclopaedia Britannica
Artists’ websites
Opera Base

ArtsPreview home page

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