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  • PSU to present Mozart's timeless magic

  • Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” is believed to be the most frequently performed opera in the world, but it hasn’t been done by Pittsburg State University for decades.

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  • Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” is believed to be the most frequently performed opera in the world, but it hasn’t been done by Pittsburg State University for decades.
    That’s going to change. The Pittsburg State University Opera Workshop, accompanied by the Southeast Kansas Symphony, will present the perennial favorite at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday in Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium.
    Opera director is Patrick Howle of the PSU music faculty who also finds time occasionally to sing in operas.
    Howle said he believes the opera will be accessible and enjoyable for all audience members, not just opera fans.
    “We’re doing it in English, and we’ve got a pretty good dragon,” he said. “It’s a little bit Disneyland, but it’s cool.”
    The story features Tamino, a handsome prince sung by Jayson Canton, who is enlisted by the Queen of the Night, Sarah Wiliams, to rescue her daughter. He’s a bit dubious about the project until the queen shows him a picture of the beautiful maiden, portrayed by Madison Youngberg, and he instantly falls in love.
    Assisting Tamino in the quest is Papageno, a delightful comic character portrayed by Andrew Hayse. He’s a professional bird catcher whose only wishes in life are for nice food, good wine and a pretty wife.
    Tamino’s mission takes him to Sarastro, sung by Aaron Powell, who is not the villain that the Queen of the Night has claimed him to be. Sarastro has taken Pamina because the virtuous maiden is destined to be Tamino’s wife, if he can survive a series of ordeals.
    One of them is the ordeal of silence, when he can’t even reassure Pamina that he loves her, which drives the poor girl to the brink of suicide.
    Some of the symbols and ordeals are reminiscent of Freemasonry, and Mozart was a Mason. Also Sorastro may represent the spirit of the Enlightenment, when reason and logic were prized above superstition and emotionalism, as embodied by the Queen of the Night."
    Whatever the philosophy behind it, it’s a fun show and the music is lovely. The Queen of the Night is a particularly challenging role to sing. Because of this, Howle hired Williams, a professional singer, for the opera.
    “She’s the only one of the cast who is not a student,” he said. “I was able to cast the rest with students and I was pleased with them.”
    Others in the cast are Aaron Hayse as the villainous Monostatos, who desires Pamina for himself; Grace Wallace, Kimberly Arzoian and Lisa Gerstenkorn as the three ladies; Ariele Foltz, Peyton Simpson and Whitney Kraft as three spirits; Joshua Crown as priest/speaker; Alyssa Marsha as Papagena, Papageno’s future wife; Brandon Blackburn, Charles Breedlove and Aaron Weatherbie as three slaves; with Breedlove and Weatherbie also as a couple of men in armor.
    Page 2 of 2 - Chorus members are Sylvia Singmaster, Samantha Lassiter, Tiffany Wehmeyer, Brandon Blackburn, Bernadette Tate and Kristina Parsons.
    The set, featuring a gorgeous night sky with the moon and twinkling stars, was designed by Dan Williams of Missouri Southern State University.
    “This is my favorite opera, and I’m glad I finally had the opportunity to design it,” Williams said.
    Tickets for the performance are $10 for adults. $5 for senior citizens and students under 17 and $5 for groups of 10 or more. PSU students will be admitted free with their student ID. Tickets may be purchased through the PSU Ticket Office or at the door.

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