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Classical 101

Opera Columbus Brings Mozart to Schools

Prince Tamino and Papageno in "The Magic Flute"
Prince Tamino and Papageno in "The Magic Flute"

Recently I was reminded that Mozart wrote his final opera, Die Zauberflöte "The Magic Flute," as entertainment for a suburban theater outside Vienna. He expected the audience to be engaged, energetic and joyful. After all, those elements are clear in Mozart's music, and Emanuel Schikaneder's Theater auf der Wieden included a tavern and a casino. Between wine, billiards and Mozart, a good time was had by all.

No wine and no billiards, but Opera Columbus did a smashing job last week with an abridged Magic Flute adapted for kids.

The black-box classroom at the McCoy Center for the Arts saw three—count 'em, three—performances in one morning on Feb. 15, before three groups of kids from local schools. 

Die Zauberflöte, as written by Mozart and Schikaneder, clocks in at a hefty three hours and includes pages of spoken dialog, in German, vielen Dank, and some heady references to Mozart's membership in a Masonic lodge.

The children heard a 20-minute adaption, including plenty of hit tunes rearranged for the very gifted quartet of young singers, plus one lovely lass who played the dragon. 

Yes, there's a dragon, a handsome—if dim—prince, a lovely princess, an angry Queen of the Night and a bird-catcher named Papageno, all played by Ohio State University students as part of a collaboration between the university and Opera Columbus. Here's a snippet from the performance:


"This is a really rewarding experience to be able to go around and share what we love and our passion for opera with a new generation of audiences," says baritone Justin Fields, who plays Papageno.

Destiny Coleman, Opera Columbus' director of education and outreach, reminded us all to "sit on your bottom" before the show began. That's always good advice, be it for little kids or elderly radio announcers. 

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.