Pacific Opera Project’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute received an enthusiastic reception on opening night, Saturday, March 2nd, at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. The show’s Nintendo-inspired staging and English libretto was replete with metacritical gags relating to both classic video games as well as operatic conventions. If the audience’s consistent and appreciative laughter is any guide, the Venn diagram of opera buffs and veteran gamers has a greater overlap than might otherwise have been expected.
Bass-Baritone E. Scott Levin, having collaborated with POP director Josh Shaw on the libretto, performed the crucial role of Papageno with both comic aplomb and tremendous vocal power. The rest of the cast, from Alexandra Schoeny’s luminous Pamina to the trio of sopranos who gamely portrayed the Three Spirits as mushrooms from Mario Kart, all rose to the challenges presented by both Mozart’s score and the modern staging. Conductor Edward Benyas handled POP’s orchestra expertly, particularly in the softer passages.
POP’s The Magic Flute has three more performances at the El Portal: Tonight, March 8th at 8 pm, Saturday night at 7:30 and a Sunday Matinee at 3:00. Tonight’s performance has two special events attached as well; first, the orchestra will perform arrangements a set of video game themes at 7:35, along with a costume contest with the grand prize of tickets to a real-life Mario Kart race. At the El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA. Tickets $20-60. For more information, visit Pacific Opera Project on the web.