The Chan Centre and UBC Opera
with The Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra

Die Zauberflote - The Magic Flute
by W. A. Mozart
Libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder

Dates: 10, 12, 13 December at 8.00 p.m.; 14 December at 3.00 p.m. 2003 Venue: The Chan Centre

Reviewer: Jane Penistan


Director  Nancy Hermiston Conductor Richard Epp Costumes Parven Mirhady, Robert Prince Set design Erin A. Harris Lighting designer Jeremy Baxter  Stage Manager Alishia Harris Surtitles Lucas Wong

The Magic Flute is Mozart's last opera, his most profound and mature work in this field. The production by UBC Opera, and the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Professor Nancy Hermiston and conducted by Richard Epp was an awe-inspiring experience.

Erin Harris's minimal set was brilliantly transformed into widely differing locations by the skilful and ingenious use of sophisticated lighting designed with great artistry by Jeremy Baxter.

The costumes were opulently eye-catching, particularly that of the Queen of the Night, with its sparkling, shimmering trains.

No amount of scenery, lighting and costumes can make an opera successful if it is not well sung and played. Here the singers had a maturity and command of the difficult but thrilling music of this great work far beyond what is generally expected of a student company. They were admirably accompanied by the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Richard Epp.



The ensemble singing was clean and clear and beautifully controlled. Of the soloists, two were outstanding in this excellent company. As the star-spangled Queen of the Night Shauna Martin sang her first aria "O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn", with all its embellishments, with great precision and musicality. In "Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" she sang powerfully, with all the force of the rage and vengeance of the text terrifyingly delivered. Neema Bickersteth was no less accomplished as Pamina. Her exquisite voice expressed all her fear and anguish, and was heartbreaking in Ach, ich fuhl's, es ist verschwunden, and even more so in her farewell scene with Tamino (John Arsenault). Todd Delaney, as Papageno, captured all the humour of the libretto and the music in his delightful performance of this engaging character. John Arsenault's Tamino had a nobility and warmth. Justin Welsh made a sterling effort in the musically difficult role of Sarastro. When his voice matures, as it gives promise of so doing, he will be a great Mozart singer.

Surely Canadian opera in the hands of these students, director, and conductor, has a world wide glittering future. Thank you for this enthralling evening.

© 2003 Jane Penistan