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Opera Theatre Of Saint Louis Opens 2014 Festival Season

Ken Howard

A new production of an old favorite opens Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’ 2014 season.  Fashion icon Isaac Mizrahi returns as director and designer of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Opening May 24, the production features tenor Sean Panikkar in the role of Tamino and noted Mozart expert Jane Glover conducts.

Donizetti’s comedy The Elixir of Love opens May 31 followed by the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek’s 27 on June 14. The fourth opera in the repertory season, Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, opens June 18 featuring sopranos Kelly Kaduce and Christine Brewer. The orchestra in all four operas is made up of members of the St. Louis Symphony.

Panikkar and Kaduce joined Cityscape host Steve Potter to talk about their roles in Opera Theatre’s season. The singers first commented on how the four operas work together in the season.  “There is a little bit of something for everyone,” said Kaduce.  “You have a couple of standards in there. You have The Magic Flute and you have The Elixir of Love which are very standard in the repertoire. But they’ve taken a different twist, at least I know for sure with The Magic Flute, they’ve brought in Isaac Mizrahi to direct…There’s also a world premiere, 27, by Ricky Ian Gordon, a wonderful American composer, and we have Dialogues of the Carmelites which is a very cerebral, intense opera.” 

Panikkar added, “Dialogues of the Carmelites is very intense. The Magic Flute is a little bit lighter and The Magic Flute and The Elixir of Love are more or less comedies… So there is something you could bring kids to – actually you could bring kids to The Magic Flute or The Elixir of Love and they would probably love both of them.  And since Opera Theatre of Saint Louis performs everything in English, it’s accessible to everybody.”

Credit Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Sean Panikkar

Panikkar explained that Isaac Mizrahi brings new ideas to The Magic Flute, an opera composed in 1791 which many in the cast have sung multiple times. “Isaac came at it with a really fresh set of eyes and really kind of took a common sense approach to it and it really brought some excitement to it," said Panikkar.  "And because he’s a fashion designer, he’s so visually focused that every single scene is visually stunning.” One of Mizrahi’s innovations is the addition of a group of dancers who are always on the stage adding to the visual appeal of the production.

Dialogues of the Carmelites is set in the French Revolution. The story revolves around a group of French Carmelite nuns who are condemned to death because of their faith. Kaduce sings the role of Blanche who is not yet a novice at the beginning of the opera, but wants to enter the Carmelite order.  “She represents that courage doesn’t necessarily take the face that we expect," said Kaduce. "And you see that through her transformation through her fear to the final ending of the piece.”

Credit Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Kelly Kaduce

Opera Theatre’s season runs through June 29.  Each performance is preceded by the opportunity to picnic on the lawn or under the tent in front of the Loretto Hilton Center.  After each performance, the audience is invited back to the tent to mingle with the singers.

For more on The Magic Flute read Patricia Rice’s article.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 2014 Season

Mozart's The Magic Flute

8:00 p.m. May 24, 28 & 30. June 5, 11, 21 & 24

1:00 p.m. June 18 & 28

7:00 p.m. June 15

Donizetti's The Elixer of Love

8:00 p.m. May 31, June 4, 6 & 12

1:00 p.m. June 21 & 25

7:00 p.m. June 8

Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Varek's 27

8:00 p.m. June 14, 17, 19, 25 & 27

7 p.m. June 29

Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites

8 p.m. June 18, 20, 26 & 28

7:00 p.m. June 22

Where: Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Rd.

Box office: (314) 961-0644 Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Website

Cityscape is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.

Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.

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