Originally Posted Online: June 13, 2013, 12:35 pm
Last Updated: June 13, 2013, 11:42 pm

'Magic Flute' returns this weekend to Lincoln Park

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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com

Lisa Beggs, center, who recently graduated from Augustana College, is returning to the role of The Queen of the Night in "The Magic Flute" this weekend at Rock Island's Lincoln Park. She sang the part in Opera@Augustana's 2011 performances in Wallenberg Hall. In this scene, The Queen, supported by her three ladies, tells Tamino (James Thompson, newly received doctorate in voice from the University of Iowa) to care for her daughter, Pamina.

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.