By Ken Keuffel
BOONE, N.C.—“The Magic Flute” has captivated audiences around the world many times since its 1791 premiere in Vienna. Appalachian Opera Theatre’s coming production of Wolfgang Mozart’s beloved opera aims to build on that success in variety of ways.
Dr. Gennard Lombardozzi, who is directing the show for the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University, pointed to several of them during a break in rehearsals before opening night, which is April 6 in the Broyhill Music Center’s Rosen Concert Hall. One may satisfy those fans of “Flute” who want bolder-than-usual visuals for a story of light-hearted adventure, magical fantasy and commitment to love. These will consist of gothic ruins on a wintery landscape, with cast members wearing medieval costumes. Mike Helms designed the show’s set and Jennifer Ackland designed its costumes.
“The idea is ‘Game of Thrones’ meets ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,’” said Lombardozzi, a visiting assistant professor of voice and opera at Appalachian. “The simplicity and earthiness of this setting allows for the details of each character to emerge while offering the audience a relatable world of fantasy.”
Lombardozzi, a tenor who has sung many operatic roles professionally, added that he had “always wanted to feel more grounded within the plot” of the past “Flute” productions of which he has been a part. For him, the world of “Flute” should be “just a slight extension of reality rather than a Disney-esque fairytale that may be brushed off as cheesy or unrelatable.”
“I believe the combination of the wintery landscape, gothic ruins and medieval costumes draws the audience into a world of fantasy that isn’t far off from what we experience as humans,” Lombardozzi said. “The plot is then allowed to take its shape with less questioning and the audience has a more engaging experience.”
In addition to his work as a professional singer, Lombardozzi been pursuing a career as a music educator, having taught in many university-level programs around the country. He is betting that his “Flute” will have advanced the education of each cast member in a manner that is appropriate for his or her age and the role they are singing.
He suggested that “Flute” is education-friendly because it has a large cast of roles with varying demands. These range from the Queen of the Night, whose famous aria (“Die Hoelle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen”) epitomizes the most challenging of vocal acrobatics, to chorus parts that are relatively easy to sing. There is also plenty of fare whose difficulty is somewhere in between.
The Appalachian singers are also growing accustomed to a situation they will encounter if they make it as professionals: singing in a foreign language, in this case German, over a pit orchestra. The cast will render the show’s ample spoken dialogue in English.
Christianna Roy of Sanford, who is pursuing a master’s degree in vocal performance at Appalachian, will be singing the Queen of the Night April 7 and 9, sharing the role with Rachel Anthony, who is studying at UNC Greensboro. Roy said it has been her dream to sing this character since high school. She seemed confident about the challenges ahead.
“I have overcome the vocal challenges of (singing ‘Hoelle’)…by not psyching myself out,” she said. “It is nerve-racking because this is, in my opinion, the aria of all arias that a soprano can sing. …The more I sing this aria, the more I break it down and understand the German text, the easier it becomes for me to sing it.”
Appalachian Opera Theatre presents at 8 p.m. April 6-8 and 2 p.m. April 9 in the Broyhill Music Center’s Rosen Concert Hall. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and free for children under 10. For tickets or information, call 800-841-2787 or visit http://theschaefercenter.org/tickets.
About the Hayes School of Music
The Hayes School of Music prepares young musicians for professional lives as performers, composers, music educators, music therapists, conductors and music industry professionals, ensuring the next generation of musical leadership for the state, region and nation. Noted for quality instruction by national and internationally recognized faculty musicians, the school offers four undergraduate degree programs and three graduate-level programs.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.