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Press Release


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Jean Oelrich
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Melodies and magic come together for Pacific Symphony's enchanting Family Musical Mornings presentation of Mozart's "The Magic Flute" as Opera-Vocal Initiative continues

December 19, 2012

Concert features professional singers; talented students from Chapman University; plus costumes, props and projected scenery; and Musical Carnival

Mozart’s captivating fairy-tale opera, “The Magic Flute,” is brought to life by Pacific Symphony in a production designed specifically for kids, highlighting vocal and orchestral color with humorous dialogue. As part of the Symphony’s opera-vocal initiative&$8212;which includes Puccini’s “Tosca” in February 2013, as part of the Classical series—this 45-minute performance is ripe with original narration and dialogue designed to introduce children to the beautiful and powerful instrument of the voice. Led by newly appointed Assistant Conductor Alejandro Gutiérrez, in his first family concert since Maxim Eshkenazy passed the baton in December, “The Magic Flute” allows the orchestra and singers to tell the tale of love triumphing over evil in a world of enchantments rife with the danger of deception.

This fully costumed, staged concert, with projected scenic elements, features a number of local artists; the Symphony is collaborating with a Chapman University professor, students and alumni in addition to professional singers from the Long Beach Opera and Los Angeles Opera Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program. Presented by Farmers and Merchants Bank and underwritten by the Honorable H. Warren and Janet Siegel, “The Magic Flute” takes place Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets are $19-39 and include a Musical Carnival before or after the show (more below).For more information or to purchase tickets call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.

“The Magic Flute” is a boisterous and adventurous tale of Prince Tamino’s quest to rescue Princess Pamina with the help of his sidekick Papageno, a comical bird-catcher. Throughout their journey through a land of enchantments, Tamino and Papageno must overcome mystical deceptions and the evil Queen of the Night before successfully rescuing the damsel in distress and finding their “happily ever after.”

“The plot is quite fantastic,” says Maestro Gutiérrez. “It is a story mixed with drama, action and comedic relief—especially from Papageno. Through the beautiful themes, melodies and some of the most amazing singing arias composed by Mozart, this inspirational story of good triumphing evil brought to life by the live orchestra and singers will be a show the audience is sure to enjoy.”

“This is the first family concert our new assistant conductor Alejandro will lead, and we are thrilled to have him join the team,” says Susan Kotses, director of education and community engagement. “He brings a focused energy and enthusiasm, with boundless creativity and excitement for sharing music with our young audiences.”

Directed and written by Peter Atherton, director of Opera Chapman and professor of vocal arts, this staged production features two Chapman alumni in lead roles: Ben Bliss as Tamino and Steve Pence as Sarastro, with all smaller roles and understudies played by current Chapman students and recent alumni, including Jerry Bartucciotto, Kylena Parks, Nichole Michel, Kyle Patterson, Alex Bodrero, Brett Gray and Natalie Uranga.

In addition to its Chapman collaboration, the Symphony welcomes back two singers who starred in its 2008 production of “The Magic Flute”: David Stoneman as Papageno (a regular favorite of the Family Musical Mornings series) and Maria Cristina Navarro, who reprises her stunning performance as Queen of the Night. Joining the Symphony for the first time, Melinda Elrich, who recently made her debut with Long Beach Opera, plays Papagena alongside two rising stars who are members of the prestigious L.A. Opera Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program, Ben Bliss (Tamino, noted above) and Hae Ji Chang, who plays Pamina.

The Symphony’s collaboration with Chapman University furthers its educational mission and allows the young audience at Family Musical Mornings concerts see performers closer to their own age. Additional projects with Chapman include performances in the lobby before upcoming classical concerts and participating in opera outings hosted by the Symphony. “This presentation of Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’ provides an outstanding opportunity for our audience to learn about different voice types, and to understand why composers choose certain types of voices and music portray specific characters and stories,” continues Kotses. “For example, the wise and good Sarastro is a bass, the lowest of all voices, and his enemy, the evil Queen of the Night, is a coloratura soprano, the highest of all voices. The extreme contrast between the rich resonance of Sarastro’s low notes and the shinning, laser-like focus of the Queen of the Night’s high notes demonstrates their roles as opposing forces of good and evil.”

In addition, some young audience members have a chance to participate onstage! The Symphony has invited six children to perform alongside the singers and orchestra as the serpent in the opening scene, chosen based on their interest submitted at the Symphony’s previous Musical Carnival in October.

Along with the concert, children and families are invited to attend the Musical Carnival beginning at 9 a.m. (for the 10 a.m. concert) and 12:15 p.m. (for the 11:30 a.m. concert). The carnival features Chapman singers, a Spotlight on the Voice, Ask the Orchestra, Instrument Test Drive, Meet the Musicians, Meet the Young Musicians (from Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles), opera-related crafts and a “Where’s Mozart?” game with a prize.

Family Musical Mornings returns on Saturday, March 23, 2013 with “Cinderella,” featuring live-sized puppets and music from Prokofiev’s popular ballet. The series concludes on May 4, 2013 with “Under the Sea,” featuring music from Disney’s beloved “The Little Mermaid” and more.