Friday, January 23, 2009

Opera 101 done right

If you read my last post, you know that Akhnaten is probably not the best "starter opera" one could attend, at least to my mind. A far more popular toe-dip in the waters of opera is Mozart's The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte, auf Deutsch). The fanciful tale of a prince on a quest to rescue a fair maiden, the daughter of a malicious queen, from her captors, Magic Flute has fairy-tale elements, comic characters, memorable tunes, and a dash or five of freemasonry for Mozart and his friends. Each year in recent memory, New York's Metropolitan Opera has mounted an abbreviated English-language version of the puppet-heavy Julie Taymor production around the Christmas holidays as a draw for families.

In short, this is a great first foray into the world of opera. As I was airing my complaints about Akhnaten Wednesday night to a former classmate via facebook chat, he directed me to YouTube, where my alma mater Northwestern University's 2005 production of Die Zauberflöte can be found in its entirety. "Dritter Knabe," or third boy, was my one and only opera role during my undergrad years -- unless you count the role of knitting/laughing chorus nun in Suor Angelica. Now that it's online, I can relive my collegiate opera days whenever I like. Woo!

As an explanation of my character, the trio of three boys are usually sung by young boys with unchanged voices, but many productions will use three women instead and call them "spirits." In this gang it would appear that Cindy, the first soprano, was the cute girly one; Kate, the middle voice, was the normal one; and I, on alto, was the chubby one. In a Kerri Strug wig. It's actually pretty humorous... At least I'm ridiculously cute.

For those of you who want to bypass the parts not involving me (though there are some pretty hilarious wigs and costumes, as well as hilariously bad acting), I made the effort to find the spots featuring yours truly. (The Queen of the Night was pretty awesome in this production though, so I'd recommend checking her out too.)


Find Kathleen at: 31:42, 40:00, and as a bizarro dancing woodland creature at 48:40


Find Kathleen at: 29:30, 30:45, and in her big scene from minutes 37 to 50. If you want a taste of her infamous childhood sulk routine, keep your eyes out at 49:45 or so. Also, that's me on the far right in the video box freeze!

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