Monday, March 27, 2006

The Magic Flute

When I got a look at the theater schedule in Prague (during a visit to Peg, a Spring Fulbrighter), I was very excited and decided I would go see some operas. Mostly, I was interested in seeing Mozart, but a few other things caught my eye as well. When I arrived last summer, I saw that Don Giovanni was playing in Prague at THE theater for which Mozart originally wrote it be first performed. I thought that would be something special to see.

I don't normally go to operas (in Los Angeles), but I enjoy musical theater... and hey, why not?? When in Rome...

There were SOOOO MANY operas playing in Prague, so why miss the experience? Three of the six works I wanted to see were by Mozart, and you might have guessed that I like Mozart (if you read about my trip to Vienna). Anyway, my first successful venture was to see The Magic Flute, in The Estates Theater (yes, THE one he had in mind for Don Giovanni).

The "monster" and other things. A very creative piece of staging. I had never seen anything like it before. It was interesting the way they used it for entrances and exits, etc. Just the way they maneuvered the thing was interesting. I couldn't exactly ignore it, since it covered so much of the stage when it was down, but I also kept my eyes on it because I was curious to see what they would do with it next.

The stage. This is what was visible before the performance started-- we could only take photos when they performance was not in progress.

The seats --it was very difficult to take good pictures of the theater. It is a tight horse-shoe shape, and I do mean tight. In the last picture (of the stage) you can see just how close the two sides of the stage are to each other. Some may call it "intimate." We were pretty far up, which was not a problem because there is a screen showing translations of the text in both English and German at the very top of the stage area, and it was easily (and comfortably) visible from our seats. More on that in a bit.

The ceiling. Something I could get at least a halfway decent photo of. Well, it shows some of the beauty of the place, in any case. You can also get a sense of how high up we are. There were cushioned rails in front of our seats because we had to lean forward onto them in order to see the whole stage. That was a new thing for me. We HAD to lean. I wondered if people often fell asleep on those cushions. I don't know. Perhaps they are not that comfortable. I wondered, too, how the ladies in the old days with those big dresses got into those narrow rows.

So...The music was good, of course.

The theater was lovely. I was imagining Mozart himself conducting the orchestra for one of his operas...awesome. Um hmm.

But I have to say that this Opera was one of the strangest things I have ever seen!! The story wasn't just sad or depressing (as some operas are) or lame as (many things are) but it just made no sense! Elements of story were set up and never paid off. And the characters!! OMG. The motivation??? I was wondering if Mozart actually wrote the book (I learned that term from Robin--does it apply to Opera too??) for these shows or only the music????? At one point I was telling myself to stop reading the text and just listen to the music. "Just close your eyes, " I kept saying to myself. Did I listen? No! Of course not. I am too curious (or too nosy) and too hopeful that something might come out if it at the end to pay it all off. Man, I don't like being disappointed. =)

I am REALLY hoping that The Marriage of Figaro is better when I go to see that in JUNE!! THAT is the main one I want to see. It will be nice, too, to see it in Prague, where it was well received upon its very first performance (unlike in Vienna). Let's keep hope alive!!



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