The Magic Flute

by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Joseph Mechavich, Principal Conductor

Beth Greenberg, Director


Friday, September 21 at 8 PM

Sunday, September 23 at 2 PM


Sung in German, Dialogue in English with English Supertitles

Fairytale? Love story?  Multi-layered allegory?

You decide!

And remember – long before there was Harry Potter, there was Mozart’s incandescent Magic Flute!

Into the woods we go with Prince Tamino and his pal, the irreverent bird catcher Papageno.  The Prince is searching for the perfect girl to marry, and happily, he finds her – but not before being saved from a dragon, outsmarting the duplicitous Queen of the Night, and proving himself worthy through an epic set of challenges set forth by the mysterious high priest Sarastro!

Genies and villains, bunnies, bats and boars, and of course, a magic flute – they’re all part of this high-flying adventure that delights the kid in us all.

Enjoy some of the most beautiful music ever composed, and marvel at this whimsical yet profound masterpiece that “ventures as deep into the human spirit as art goes.” New York Times



Joseph Mechavich

Mechavich showed great command and sensitivity throughout, both controlling and supporting the orchestra in their task of performing parts that were most difficult and intricate.

Broadway World

Stage Director

Beth Greenberg*

* Kentucky Opera debut

Beth Greenberg’s direction unfolds with admirable clarity and brims with telling touches.

New York NewsDay

Photo credit: Vincent Master


Jamez McCorkle*

* Kentucky Opera debut

A giant of a man, McCorkle has a huge range and a captivating, ringing tenor “that had the audience all abuzz.”

Opera News


Brandie Sutton*

* Kentucky Opera debut

This soprano “brings a radiant, agile voice and tender, expressive touches…a ravishing performance.”

The New York Times


Sean Michael Plumb*

* Kentucky Opera debut

“He was the star of the show…his warm, velvety baritone and onstage ease as the birdcatcher Papageno promising wonderful things to come.”

Philadelphia Inquirer

The Queen of the Night

Jeni Houser*

* Kentucky Opera debut

“Houser was commanding and duplicitous, yet also vulnerable. She has a bright future above the staff.”

Opera News


Adam Lau

Last seen in Kentucky Opera’s 2017-2018 production of The Barber of Seville.

“bass of real quality, with sonorous low notes.”

Palm Beach Arts Paper

Orchestra Sponsor

Anonymous Orchestra Sponsor

Know Before You Go


In a dark and mysterious forest, Prince Tamino is being chased by the giant serpent. His courage fails. Just as he faints, three strange ladies emerge. They slay the monster. The ladies quickly realize that Tamino may be the “special one” to rescue the stolen Princess Pamina. They run off to tell her mother, the Queen of the Night.

As Tamino awakens he is greeted by Papageno, a bird catcher who’s also an emissary of the Queen. Papageno boasts that he alone killed the serpent. The three ladies rebuke him and punish him for lying.

They show Tamino a portrait of the beautiful Pamina and he immediately falls in love with her. The Queen arrives and reveals how Pamina’s father abducted her daughter. His name is Sarastro and is a powerful Temple leader. Tamino vows to rescue Pamina. The three Ladies return to help the Prince by handing him a magic flute, and to Papageno, magic bells. To further assist them, the ladies introduce three spirits who will guide them along. The two men set out on their journey, but are soon separated in the labyrinth.

A nightmare awakens Pamina. She’s being watched by the evil Monostatos, one of Sarastro’s guards. Papageno stumbles upon her cell, scares away Monostatos, and using the portrait, attempts to identify her. They connect and sing of their mutual hearts’ desire – each to find their own mate. They set out together.

The three spirits lead Tamino closer to Pamina and to the outer Temple gates. Tamino is rejected at two of the three entrances, but at the last one, a Priest bids him inside. The Priest convinces him to switch his loyalty from the Queen to Sarastro.

Meanwhile, Pamina leads Papageno towards Sarastro’s court. Sarastro finally appears and permits Pamina to marry, but forbids her return to her mother. Tamino is brought in. Sarastro now requires Tamino to undergo more trails before he will allow his daughter’s wedding.



In Sarastro’s inner court the men discuss Tamino’s fate. Will he be a worthy husband? Tamino and Papageno are brought inside. Finally, Pamina appears and sees Tamino for the first time, but Sarastro separates the lovers. He insists that Tamino now take a vow of silence as he prepares for his tests.

Tamino and Papageno wander deeper into the darkness. The three Ladies arrive and try to convince them to return to the Queen. They fail. The Priest congratulates Tamino on his courage and loyalty, but still more trials await. The Priest also hints that Papageno is getting closer to finding his very own love. The men are recharged.

The Queen, now enraged, visits Pamina and demands that she murder her father. She gives her a dagger. Pamina is devastated.

Monostatos tries to take advantage of the weakened Pamina but is interrupted and banished by the powerful Sarastro who declares that love, not vengeance, will put her on the right path.

The Priest leads Tamino and Papageno deeper and reminds them of their pledge of silence. The three spirits arrive and further encourage the seekers.

Pamina enters and becomes confused over Tamino’s silence. She leaves heartbroken.

Still deeper in the labyrinth, we discover Papageno alone with the Priest. He’s having a harder time fulfilling the trials. A cup of wine is offered to him; he drinks, and feeling courageous, uses his bells to summon his bride. A mysterious, old woman appears and introduces herself as Papagena, his perfect mate. But the Priest once again intervenes and demands Papageno continue the challenge.

The spirits sing of the glory to come but Pamina has grown hopeless and contemplates suicide. They comfort her and take her to Tamino who’s about to undergo his final trial. Now reunited, and with the aid of his magic flute, they stand together through the final tests of fire and water. They triumph.

Papageno is still desperate to find his Papagena. He uses his pan pies to call her to him, but to no avail. He decides to hang himself but is stopped by the spirits. He now uses his magic bells which bring her to him. The exotic Papagena finally arrives and the two sing of their mutual desire to marry and have a large family.

Sarastro and his court celebrate the two victorious couples. Wisdom, reason, and nature have ruled the land.

Beth Greenberg, Stage Director
July 27, 2018

Photos by Tim Trumble courtesy of Arizona Opera

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria on January 27, 1756 to Leopold Mozart and Anna Maria Pertl. Leopold was a successful composer, violinist and assistant concertmaster at the Salzburg court. Wolfgang began composing minuets at the age of 5 and symphonies at 9. When he was 6, he and his older sister, Maria Anna ( “Nannerl”), performed a series of concerts for European royal courts in major European cities. Both children played the keyboard, but Wolfgang became a violin virtuoso (highly skilled) as well.

From 1762-1766, the Mozart children toured Europe and played for the courts in Vienna and Versailles as well as audiences in Paris and London. As if this was not enough, young Mozart also began publishing his first works in 1764 – pretty good for an 8 year old. His first opera, Mitridate, Re di Ponto, was commissioned in 1770 at the age of 14.  After touring France with his mother, Mozart returned to Salzburg as the court organist and continued to add to his already prodigious composition catalog.  His success with the opera The Abduction from the Seraglio in 1782 garnered the attention of Emperor Joseph II who hired him as his court composer. That same year, Mozart married Constanze Weber. Four years later came the opera The Marriage of Figaro (1786) to modest success – this was the first of his collaborations with Lorenzo da Ponte (followed by Don Giovanni and Così Fan Tutte).

Wolfgang’s fame began to fade after The Marriage of Figaro. He sank into debt and was assisted by a fellow Freemason, Michael Puchberg. The Mozarts’ finances continued to plague them although Wolfgang completed his last three symphonies (E flat, G minor and the Jupiter in C) in less than 7 weeks during the summer of 1788.

Mozart’s last two operas both premiered in 1791, with The Magic Flute being completed before Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, although it premiered after. The Magic Flute was written for, and in collaboration with, Mozart’s friend Emanuel Schikaneder, an impresario, actor, dramatist, amateur singer, and builder of the Theatre an der Wien, which also attracted audiences from many levels of society. Schikaneder was known for both his dramatic portrayal of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and for his comedic stage persona. In addition, he is accredited with writing the libretto to The Magic Flute.

The Magic Flute is a singspiel, literally translated “sing play” or “sing act”, with spoken dialogue interspersed throughout the arias and ensembles. Schikaneder happened to love the singspiel form and used it as the staple of his Vienna repertoire. A similar form of theatre became popular after the German premier of English composer John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera in 1728. It was viewed as a play with music, which inspired a trend of theatre works that were partly sung and partly spoken, often with whimsical stories from fairy tales. The singspiel can also be compared to the French opéra comique, and both the singspiel and the latter show influence on the Italian opera buffa.

Schikaneder’s Theatre on der Wien premiered a series of fairy tales operas, which culminated with The Magic Flute in 1791. The inspiration for the libretto can be traced to many sources, most notably Sophie Seyler’s Singspiel Oberon, Ignaz von Born’s essay “On the mysteries of the Egyptians”, and Christoph Martin Wieland’s Dschinnistan, a compilation of fairy tales, which included a story entitled Lulu, oder der Zauberflöte, by Jakob August Liebeskind. As the source material evolved into the libretto, the actual “flute” began to play a secondary role.

Many scholars have noted references in The Magic Flute to both the era of Enlightenment as well as Free Masonry. Mozart and Schikaneder, and many of their contemporaries, were Free Masons. The enlightenment milieu was ripe for cultivating new initiates into masonry, as both embraced the possibility of individual progression. Mozart died on December 5, 1791 and was buried in a shared grave at the cemetery of Saint Marx, a Viennese suburb. By today’s standards the funeral would be viewed as pathetic and dull, however it was in accordance with the contemporary regulations under Joseph II. He was opposed to opulent and costly ceremonies, be it in funerals or weddings, and forbade his subjects to take part in such pomp and circumstance.

While Mozart is not what we think of as revolutionary in regards to his musical style, many of his operas’ librettos questioned the aristocracy, and focused on the common people. He may not have challenged the forms, structures and standards in which is composed, but he certainly perfected them. In his operas, Mozart’s uncanny psychological insight is unique in musical history and his music influenced the next generation of composers, most notably Ludwig von Beethoven. His compositions continue to this day to exert a particular fascination for musicians and music lovers alike. Mozart’s music appeals to the cerebral and deeply emotional while also being able to entertain and even inspire childlike wonder and awe.

Library Lecture Series – August 29
Lunch and Listen – September 6
Final Student Dress Rehearsal – September 19
Opera Preview: The Magic Flute – September 21
Pre-Show Bites – September 21
The Magic Flute Cast Party – September 21
Pre-Show Bites – September 23
Opera Unwrapped: The Magic Flute – September 23
Opera Preview: The Magic Flute – September 23

The Cast

James McCorkle*

Brandie Sutton*

The Queen of the Night
Jeni Houser*

Adam Lau

Sean Michael Plumb*

First Lady
Murrella Parton^

Second Lady
Courtney Elvira^

Third Lady
Elizabeth Batton

T.J. Capobianco*^

Old Woman (Papagena)
Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa*

The Speaker (The Old Priest)/2nd Armoured Man
Adrian Sanchez*^

Design Team

Beth Greenberg*

Lighting Designer
Connie Yun

* Kentucky Opera Debut
^ Kentucky Opera Studio Artist