But three sold-out performances in the Little Carib over last weekend obliged the Classical Music Development Foundation of TT to extend the run of Mozart’s The Magic Flute to a next weekend – thus proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is an audience for classical music here.
Admittedly the opera had to be pared down to fit the theatre (it’s not possible to put three little boy sopranos in a box and fly them above and over the stage in the Little Carib), the work was sung in English and the abridged version was based on the Amato Opera NYC production.
In Germany The Magic Flute is known as a “songspiel” – like a modern musical comedy, it marries music and speech and was first performed in a sort of music hall popular with common folk rather than the grand opera houses where most of the works were sung in Italian.
Songspiel – and modern opera productions – demand that singers act as well as sing. Gone are the days of “stand and sing”, today singers are required to act – and act the cast of The Magic Flute did – with the burden falling on Daniel DeCranie-Pierre as Papageno the comedy act, and a cameo appearance by Andromeda DeFreitas-Baksh as Papagena.
The story should be too well known to repeat here, rather let us turn our attention to the performance itself. Raguel Gabriel impressed as Tamino, he has a strong, pleasing tenor, his voice blending well with Naette Lee (Pamina). Christian Roberts was good as the “heavy” Monostatos, while Sarastro has little to do on the acting side but his bass is one rarely heard in TT. One has seen even professional singers appear to hesitate slightly before hitting the really low notes in the score, Shellon Antoine carried off the role very well. The star of the show is always the Queen of the Night singing one of the most demanding soprano arias in opera.Natalia Dopwell carried off this melodramatic role as one expects of a trained singer and graduate of the Manhattan School of Music.
We must not forget the three ladies, attendant on the Queen of the Night. Their voices blended very well – it was a delight to hear them sing backed up with musical accompaniment on piano by the tireless Enrique Ali with Katy Gainham on the flute.
The Classical Music Development Foundation is to be congratulated on the success of no less than three operatic productions in (if memory serves) less than a twelve month – L’Enfant et les Sortileges presented in the Central Bank in April 2012, The Impresario in Theatre I NAPA in August the same year, and now The Magic Flute in the Little Carib. This has given those competing in the Musical Festival an outlet for their undoubted talents.
As to the quality of the singing and production, given the constraints of the Little Carib, the acoustics were surprisingly good, the singers’ diction very good indeed, with scarcely a false note to be heard from beginning to end. And to cap all, we still have Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas to look forward to, this time with a full orchestra of UTT student musicians to back up the singers.
Classical music lovers note the dates, April 27 and 28, at Daaga Hall in UWI. It will be well worth the drive out East to hear Purcell’s masterpiece performed by the young and exiting singers of TT.