Washington U. Opera presents ‘Magic Flute’

A handsome prince, a distant land, a damsel in distress. Yet, in the world of “The Magic Flute,” little is as it seems.

At 8 p.m. May 1 and 2, Washington University Opera will present an abridged version of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s beloved classic in Karl Umrath Hall.

“The Magic Flute” centers on Tamino, a lost prince who falls in love upon viewing a portrait of the maiden Pamina, who has been spirited away by the high priest Sarastro.

At the behest of her mother — Queen of the Night — Tamino sets out to free Pamina, armed with a charmed flute and accompanied by the birdcatcher Papageno. Yet the pair soon discovers that Sarastro is not the villain he appears, nor is the Queen of the Night easily denied her vengeance.

“The complications, hardships and tests Tamino and Papageno must face are difficult indeed,” said Jolly Stewart, director of the Washington University Opera. “But, by their steadfast perseverance, they are deemed worthy and are rewarded with love.”

Mozart’s final opera, “The Magic Flute,” was composed at the behest of his friend Emanuel Schickaneder, a Vienna theater manager who wrote the libretto. Originally based on a fable by Christopher Martin Wieland, the story was sharply reworked when Mozart and Schickaneder discovered that a rival theater had selected the same subject — a reworking that led to Sarastro’s transformation from evil magician to judicious philosopher.

The finished piece debuted in the fall of 1791, only months before Mozart’s death, with Schickaneder himself in the role of Papageno.

John Stewart, director of vocal activities in the Department of Music, conducts the performance. The cast of 13 is led by Joshua Stanton as Tamino, Sarah Shipkowski as Pamina and Alan Naylor as Papageno.

Also starring are Sara Gottman as the Queen of the Night, Kevin Nicoletti as Sarastro and Stephanie Ball as Papagena, Pagageno’s beloved. Adam Krentz-Wee is Monostatos, Sarastro’s slave. Rounding out the cast are Lindsay Keller, Taylor Martin, Nora Maynard, Carli Miller, Allison Moritz and Tom Sitzler.

Both performances — sponsored by the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences — are free and open to the public. For more information, call 935-5566 or e-mail kschultz@artsci.wustl.edu.