Kids are in mind – both onstage and in the audience – when a popular comic opera is staged four times in Surrey this weekend.
A family-friendly production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute hits the Studio Theatre at Surrey Arts Centre from Friday to Sunday (June 22-24), with its superhero-esque story told by Surrey-based Young People’s Opera Society of BC.
“Magic, struggle, deception and enlightenment are some of the many turns that the path of this adventure takes,” raves Dolores Scott, the company’s artistic director. “It has all the makings of a modern-day superhero movie, but in music and song – equally as exciting and acrobatic! That’s opera!”
On Sunday afternoon (June 17), cast and crew dress-rehearsed the show at Bethany-Newton United Church, with Scott conducting a small orchestra of piano and flutes.
Rehearsals began in January for this latest production for YPOSBC, which has a mandate to bring opera to the forefront of popularity in Surrey, and especially to youth.
Launched in 2006, the company aims to provide affordable opportunities for youth “to learn about, participate in, and sing opera at a community level so as to foster appreciation of opera and to create a foundation for future opera performers and performances,” according to its Facebook page.
With The Magic Flute, Scott said she “wanted to do something that really said we are real, and we are here in Surrey. We are also affordable, and we are good.”
The available talent is another reason Scott said she chose to do this particular production, one of the most popular operas ever written.
“It is very rare to be able to be able to cast it at all at the youth level, but I knew that I had to do it before Emma Messner graduated from high school,” she noted. “As a coloratura soprano, Queen of the Night will be a signature role for her. Same with Markus Ferrari. He is only 16 and already a full basso profundo. Chenuka Lakwijaya is also a very promising tenor, also only 16. We really hit the jackpot with this talent pool.”
In The Magic Flute, set in “a mystical land between light and darkness,” Prince Tamino is rescued from a ferocious dragon by the mighty magic of the Three Ladies who serve the Queen of the Night.
“From this moment on begins an adventure to save the Queen’s daughter, Pamina, who is held captive by the high priest, Sarastro,” explains a YPOSBC post about the show. “With a magic flute for Tamino and magic silver bells for his newly found and goofy friend, Papageno, they set out to rescue her. Soon, Tamino discovers that Sarastro leads the highest of holy orders, and begins an initiation of trials with his beloved Pamina, to be worthy of the blessings of their goodness and virtue.”
Scott applauds the production’s “very versatile and hardworking” cast, which sings and speaks in English.
“Not only do they have talent in spades (people search worldwide for the Queen of the Night and Sarastro!), they play instruments, build sets, props and projections, etc. Everyone had at least two jobs to do, we really support each other.”
Some roles in the show will rotate, with one cast performing Friday evening (7 p.m.) and in a Saturday matinee (2 p.m.), and another Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
Show tickets range from $18 to $25 via tickets.surrey.ca, or call 604-501-5566.