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World’s third most popular opera returns to Saigon

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Mozart’s opera Die Zauberflote (‘the magic flute’) is one of HBSO’s most popular productions, and it is being revived for a single performance on March 31 at the Saigon Opera House.

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A scene in Die Zauberflote opera - PHOTO: COURTESY OF HBSO


Die Zauberflote is the third most popular opera worldwide, after Verdi’s La Traviata and Bizet’s Carmen. A full house is expected for this revival.

The opera will be sung in German, with the dialogue spoken in Vietnamese.

Mozart wrote many operas in Italian, but this one was in German because it was designed to be produced in the Vienna theater owned by his friend Emanuel Schikaneder. The language spoken by the Viennese population was German.

Mozart and Schikaneder were both followers of Masonry, a new pseudo-religion modeled on the principles of liberty, equality and brotherhood that had formed the basis of the French Revolution.

So the new opera combined comedy and popular dramatic events with solemn rituals that were intended to introduce Masonry to the Viennese people.

Die Zauberflote is directed by the German director David Hermann, with costumes by the Vietnamese designer Quynh Paris.

The performance will be conducted by the German conductor Askan Geisler. The singers will all be Vietnamese with the exception of the bass Derek Anthony who will sing the role of the high priest Sarastro.

The Queen of the Night will be sung by the popular soprano Pham Khanh Ngoc, while the prominent baritone Dao Mac will be the comic bird-catcher Papageno.

The romantic hero Tamino will be Pham Trang, while his beloved Pamina will be sung by Cho Hae Ryong. The misbehaving Monostatos will be Tran Thanh Nam.

Sarastro’s name derives from the ancient Persian religion Zoroastrianism on which 18th century Masonry was partly based.

After a dramatic overture, the first scene shows a price, Tamino, being attacked in a forest by a dragon. Three ladies, servants of the Queen of the Night, then appear and kill the dragon. They are strongly attracted to the prince, but their attentions are interrupted by the comic bird-catcher Papageno who enters and claims to have killed the dragon himself.

The three ladies then show Tamino a picture of the Queen of the Night’s daughter, Pamina, in a magic mirror. She is being held captive by Sarastro, they say, together with his wicked servant Monostatos. Tamino, who has fallen in love with Pamino’s image, then sets off with Papageno to rescue Pamina.

Following a series of adventures Tamino arrives at the temple of Sarastro and discovers that he isn’t an evil figure after all but a purveyor of sweetness and light. Tamino finally meets Pamina and together they have to undergo trials, organized by Sarastro, before they can marry.

Meanwhile Papageno is also looking for a partner, and eventually finds his counterpart, Papagena.

Several versions of the opera can be seen on YouTube. An especially interesting one, set in the First World War, is directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Tickets for Die Zauberflote are available from VND450,000 to VND900,000, with a special concession for bone-fide students of VND150,000. The performance begins at 8 p.m.



Source: SGT

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