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Linda Cajigas
Jacobs School of Music

Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Wednesday, November 4, 2009

IU Opera Theater presents 'wild' new production of Mozart's 'Die Zauberflote'

Not your average Magic Flute

WHAT: Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) by W. A. Mozart
WHEN: Nov. 13, 14, 20, 21 at 8 p.m.
WHERE: The Musical Arts Center, 101 N. Jordan Ave., just north of the intersection at Third Street.
TICKETS: Tickets for the Nov. 13 performance, which is general admission, are $25 ($12 for full-time students of any age with valid ID). Tickets for all other performances are $15-$35 ($10-$20 for students). The Musical Arts Center box office hours are Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Get ticket information online at, or call the Musical Arts Center at 812-855-7433.

Nov. 4, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- An expansive new production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, a co-production of Indiana University Opera Theater and The Atlanta Opera, will be premiered Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. at the Musical Arts Center in Bloomington. Additional performances in Bloomington are Nov. 14, 20 and 21.

Stage director Tomer Zvulun stands before an immense dragon puppet created for the IU Jacobs School of Music production of Mozart's "Die Zauberflöte" ("The Magic Flute"). The opera opens Nov. 13.

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This completely new production, guest stage directed by Tomer Zvulun and guest conducted by Mark Gibson, with sets and costumes designed by Jacobs School of Music Professor C. David Higgins, is "not your average Magic Flute," said Higgins.

"There have been hundreds of productions of The Magic Flute since its premiere over 200 years ago," said Zvulun, who is making his debut with IU Opera and also with directing the Mozart masterpiece.

"How do you create something magical, fresh and inventive when so many others have done it before? David (Higgins) and I spent two years of endless discussions and research and read dozens of books about the Masons, Mozart and the world of the 18th-century theater," Zvulun said. "Then, we let go of all that we had learned and allowed our imaginations to run wild. The product is just that: an unusual, original production of Flute that is different from anything we have seen before.

Mark Van Arsdale and Jacqueline Brecheen appear as Tamino and Pamina in "Die Zauberflöte," a co-production of Indiana University Opera Theater and The Atlanta Opera.

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"In terms of design, we wanted to create a truly colorful and wild world that contrasts with the illuminated world of the symbols," explained Zvulun. "The wild, natural world of Papageno and Papagena is aesthetically the antithesis to the cerebral world of Sarastro and the Masons."

Higgins designed an extensive array of colorful puppets that appear throughout the show: a huge dragon that envelopes the whole set, a giraffe, an oryx, a porcupine, a fox and many different birds that accompany Papageno on his adventures.

"One of the strong inspirations for this 'wild world' is the work of the American painter Maxfield Parrish, whose use of color, light and texture informs the aesthetics of the costumes, the sets and the lighting design," said Zvulun.

This classic tale about the struggle between good and evil -- represented by the High Priest Sarastro and the Queen of the Night, respectively -- follows the trials of two would-be lovers, Pamina and Tamino, who encounter a cast of characters along the way, including the beloved bird catcher Papageno.

Higgins and Zvulun transferred the idea of a "pop-up book" set into the concept of a magical "pop-up box." There are many elements in the show that pop up (or out), flip, rotate, light up and become something completely different in a matter of seconds.

In contrast to this imaginary world, Zvulun said that they wanted to create characters that are very much real and alive, with both good and bad sides. The motivation for the characters in the production is their obsessions, as each one is obsessed with something.

With 13 different scenes, the co-production will be mounted for a second time, in Atlanta, on April 24, 27, 30 and May 2 with a different cast. Zvulun will again direct, and Jacobs Professor Arthur Fagen will conduct.

"I am excited that this is a co-production with a major regional opera company like Atlanta," said Higgins. "It's a wonderful opportunity to show what we can do to a whole new audience. The most unique aspect of this production is the concept inspired by so many different sources. Our first job is to entertain, and we have tried to create a production that is very entertaining as well as accessible to many age groups and experience levels.

"Tomer is a great collaborator, and I have had a ball working with him," Higgins continued. "Of all of the productions I have done in the last few years, this is probably the most demanding of our staff. I am very proud of how all of them have met the challenge, and I hope the audience will be pleased with what we have accomplished."

Die Zauberflöte will be sung in German with English dialogue and supertitles.

For more information about the Jacobs School of Music and IU Opera and Ballet Theater, see