Review by Michael Piscitelli
It’s one of the higher-class events I’ve ever attended, The Four Seasons opera house is one of the nicer buildings in the city, and with its large transparent glass walls one can be assured that the opera isn’t just for the hoity-toity and the elite. Having the opportunity to see this first-hand while at The Magic Flute has been a delightful experience to say the least. The story of The Magic Flute revolves around the Prince Tamino (Andrew Haji) and his friendly companion Papageno (Joshua Hopkins) as they set off to save Pamina, (Elena Tsallagova) the daughter of the Queen of the Night (Ambur Braid).
Tamino is given a flute with magical properties that, when played will protect them from harm. When the hero’s find her, they discover the Queen is a villain, and choose to endure the trials and stay with Sarastro (Goran Jurić) and his order.
Opera is well known to be high conflict; high emotion; and high spectacle in terms of set, costume and lighting. Starting out as a play within a play in an 18th century estate garden, the play uses classical theatre technology used during that time, one sees how a small theatre troupe would have had to use manual pulleys and gear systems to operate a small production. The second half of the performance blurs the line between reality and fantasy as they move in to the estates hedge maze and the stage technology moves into the 21st century.
As the story progressed from scene to scene and moves form one area of the maze to the next, the audience watches as the hedges move almost like a graceful waltz or ballet, interweaving amongst each other, almost crashing into each other but smoothly moving past each other right at the last moment. The Canadian Opera Company’s set construction and creative teams used these theatre technologies in ways I would not have expected to see, but I am pleased to say I adore their work.
Andrew Haji, who plays the prince Tamino, was phenomenal with his performance and brought Mozart’s music to life. Joshua Hopkins who plays Papageno, surprised me when he came on stage with his presence and with his unexpectedly baritone voice but I applaud him all the same.
Opera is not just for the rich and snooty. Like all forms of theatre, it’s for everyone to enjoy and it is wonderful to behold. With the advent of technology, surtitles are possible, and anyone will understand what is happening and being said on stage. Bushes can move on their own. The possibilities are endless. If you can get the chance, regardless of age, class or otherwise, I would highly recommend seeing The Magic Flute at the Four Seasons.