Florida Grand Opera’s imaginative, hugely entertaining production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute begins unpromisingly with one of the oldest tricks of revisionist stage directors: Framing the opera as a dream.
As the overture starts, the curtain at the Arsht Center in Miami rises and we see a modern bedroom. The tenor Andrew Bidlack, looking far too old to be anyone’s child, sits there as his father enters, reaches into a case marked with the Masonic square and compass and brings out a book entitled The Magic Flute. After reading himself to sleep, the boy experiences a nightmare about being pursued by a dragon and sings the opera’s opening words, “Zu Hilfe! Zu Hilfe!” (Help! Help!). From there unfolds the story of a queen of malevolent motives (if elaborate coloratura), a wise king and the boy’s adventure of rescue, ritual initiation, romance and personal discovery.
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