Opera Notre Dame to perform Mozart’s ‘Die Zauberflote’ in DPAC
Christian Bunker | Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Scene writer Christian Bunker interviewed Aileen Markovitz, a voice major and opera enthusiast who performs in Opera Notre Dame’s upcoming production of Mozart’s “Die Zauberflote” (The Magic Flute), to talk about the opera and classical music.
Christian Bunker: How would you describe “Die Zauberflote?”
Aileen Markovitz: Mozart’s colorful fantasy opera in which Tamino and Papageno interact with the Queen of the Night and her minions as they try to rescue Pamina from Sarastro’s magic kingdom.
CB: Why should someone who knows nothing about Mozart or operas see this production?
AM: This is some of Mozart’s most beautiful music. The opera has English dialogue and is a comedy, so it is much more accessible to the general public. It has great singing, but there is also spoken dialogue. So it is almost like musical theatre, which people are more familiar with, as opposed to an opera, which is almost entirely sung.
CB: Why should someone who is an opera enthusiast see this production?
AM: The music in this opera is stunning, and the story itself has lots of freedom in terms of the production because it is a fantasy. This is the third production that I personally have seen of “Die Zauberflote,” and this opera has so much depth in terms of possible ways of staging it that you could see it a million times and get something new out of it each time.
CB: Who are you playing in this opera, and what can you tell me about the character?
AM: The character I play is Papagena, who I can best describe as a punk-rock bird woman. She is opposite Papageno, one of the major characters of the show. Papagena is simultaneously crazy, sassy and earthy. She’s the exact opposite of Papageno in both personality and looks, yet this makes them the perfect match. The actor playing Papageno is also amazing, which makes playing this part even better because of how I can play off of him.
CB: What is your favorite opera that isn’t “Die Zauberflote?”
AM: I adore “L’elisir d’amore” which is an Italian opera by Gaetano Donizetti. It’s a very fun and cute comedy, which is what makes it one of my favorites. But I still have to add that all of the Mozart operas are great and that I love “Die Zauberflote.”
CB: Here at Scene, we often write about our favorite contemporary rock, hip-hop and pop songs and artists. Could you tell me some of your favorite classical music pieces and composers?
AM: The music of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” and Mozart’s “Clarinet Concerto in A major” are two of my favorite classical pieces. As far as composers go, I love everything Bach. Since you guys prefer more recent music at Scene, I’d name Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti as one of my favorite modern classical figures.
CB: When you’re not listening to classical music, who are some contemporary artists that you like to listen to?
AM: Right now, I listen to Ed Sheeran and Kendrick Lamar a lot since I enjoy both of their new albums. I’ve also listened to Kanye West a good deal.
CB: Popular music from the first half of the 20th century has already been largely forgotten, and the music that we at Scene spend so much time reviewing will likely fade quickly as well. Yet, so many people still listen to classical works created centuries ago. What do you think gives classical music its impressive staying power?
AM: I think that classical music as an art form is inherent to humanity. Brilliant composers say through music what you cannot possibly say through words. There’s something about classical music that is so universal that everyone can connect to it. The same goes for opera. Opera is just emotions being sung very loudly, and you can feel those emotions wherever you are in history. That’s not something you often get from pop songs.
“Die Zauberflote” is playing Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. every night in Decio Theater of DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. It will be performed in German alongside English subtitles. There will also be an afternoon performance at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The cost is $10 for students.