'Magic Flute' returns this weekend to Lincoln Park

Originally Posted Online: June 13, 2013, 12:35 pm
Last Updated: June 13, 2013, 11:42 pm
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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com

The family-friendly, classic Mozart opera "The Magic Flute" will be back for free performances at Lincoln Park, 1120 40th St., Rock Island at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, as well as June 22-23.

This is a joint production of the Genesius Guild and Opera@Augustana, which was done in the park in 1991 for the 200th anniversary of the work, and more recently was staged in a minimalist way (mainly piano accompaniment) at Augustana's Wallenberg Hall in 2011.

"It's a delightful fantasy about two sets of lovers, a dragon, mysterious trios of women and boys, a furious Queen of the Night, a priestly figure, Sarastro, and a proper villain, Monastatos," Genesius Guild executive director Doug Tschopp recently said. "The lovers triumph with the aid of a magical flute and set of bells."

Mozart and his librettist Emanuel Schikaneder were Masons and they used Masonic symbols and rituals in the course of the story, he noted.

"This opera is perfect for children and adults alike," Mr. Tschopp said. "Many children learn about this opera in grade school. The last time this work was staged at the Genesius Guild, it drew a large crowd of children and their parents."

Lisa Beggs, a music and communication sciences and disorders double major from Naperville, who recently graduated from Augie, reprises her juicy role as the villainous Queen of the Night, director John Pfautz said. There are nine Augustana students (or recent grads) in this cast, accompanied by a 25-person orchestra, he noted.

"We're enjoying the expanded stage, the orchestra, and set," Mr. Pfautz said of the Genesius setting. "It's quite theatrical and enjoyable, sort of an expanded version in the sense of expanded visuals of the opera. The costumes will be a little flashier (compared to 2011), as well as the set."

The cast features Saul Nache, a part-time voice teacher at Augustana, playing Papageno, and Aani Bourassa, who recently completed her master's in voice at the University of Illinois, as Pamina. Sarastro is played by Michael Wahlmann, and Tamino by James Thompson.

As in Augie's 2011 version, this "Magic Flute" is in English, and Mr. Pfautz cut a lot of dialogue, substituting easier-to-follow narration instead.

The community orchestra is conducted by Howard Eckdahl, an Augustana voice teacher who leads the Wennenberg men's choir there. The last full-length operas done at Lincoln Park were Gilbert & Sullivan operettas --"The Pirates of Penzance" in 2005, and "Patience" in 2007. In 2009, Opera@Augustana partnered with Genesius on selections from American operas, and in 2008 did three one-act American operas.

"The Magic Flute" (originally written in German) premiered on Sept. 30, 1791 in Vienna, and was one of Mozart's last completed works. The composer died nine weeks later, at 35, of rheumatic fever and kidney failure.

This opera really is "for all ages," said Mr. Pfautz, founder and director of Opera@Augustana. "I feel that the opera has appeal to people on a heavily intellectual level, but it can be enjoyed by a 5-year-old as well, with its mythical type of characters and all."

For more information, visit genesius.org.


Local events heading

  Today is Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: A corps of surgeons now occupies the new hospital quarters at the Garrison Hospital on the Rock Island Arsenal. A fence has been installed to enclose the prison hospital.
1889 -- 125 years ago: B. Winter has let a contract to Christ Schreiner for a two story brick building with a double store front on the south side of 3rd Avenue just west of 17th Street. The estimated cost was $4,500.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Germany sent simultaneous ultimatums to Russia and France, demanding that Russia suspend mobilization within 12 hours and demanding that France inform Germany within 18 hours. In the case of war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Civil service offices at the post office and the Rock Island Arsenal were swamped as more than 700 youths sought 15 machinist apprenticeships at the Arsenal.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Last night, American Legion Post 246 in Moline figuratively handed over the trousers to a female ex-Marine and petticoat rule began. Olga Swanson, of Moline, was installed as the first woman commander of the post .
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Quad City Civic Center captured the excitement and interest of a convention of auditorium managers this weekend in Reno, Nev. Bill Adams, civic center authority chairman, said the 10,000-seat arena planned for downtown Moline has caught the eye of construction firms, suppliers, management teams and concession groups.

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