A snake opens the season with a fire-breathing flair for Modesto Opera.
The company presents “The Magic Flute” on October 15 and 17 at the Gallo Center for the Arts, opening its 2021-22 season.
Mozart’s latest opera is a “fairy tale full of unusual twists and turns, which will appeal to both children and adults,” according to a press release from Opera Modesto.
The opening scene begins with an animated fire-breathing snake created by Christopher Flores, a native of Modesto. Sets will be screened for the production, created by local artist Shirlee Rudel.
Modesto’s Central West Ballet artistic director René Daveluy also choreographed part of the show, the statement said.
“At its simplest, it’s a fantastic evening full of wizards, heroes, magical instruments, wild animals and special effects,” the statement said. “… it’s a work full of magnificent music, comedic star tricks, laughter, heartbreak and some genre-defining hits, from the loving duo of Papageno and Papagena to the fiery high notes of the Queen of the night.”
Opera Modesto looked for an artist from the region to create the projected funds and found Rudel. “Shirlee’s mystical / nature / native inspired paintings and prints will provide the beautiful landscape” of the production, “the statement said.
“Most theater and opera sets are traditionally built and painted, sometimes also incorporating projected images,” said a second press release from Opera Modesto. “As technology has advanced, however, some productions now consist almost entirely of intensely projected images.”
Company using new technologies
This is the first time that Opera Modesto has used this technology. It will feature rear and front projections 40 feet wide and 22 feet high, using two spotlights.
“I am honored that my work is used in ‘The Magic Flute’,” Rudel said in the release. “I believe my connection to opera is another mystical event …” She was told years ago that her work was similar to that of Marc Chagall, who she said made art for opera in the 1960s.
Rudel will exhibit some of his works in the hall of the Gallo Center before and during the intermission of the performances.
A native of Modesto and a graduate of Modesto High School, Christopher Flores is a digital artist who “has constructed an enthralling animated video footage of a flying, fire-breathing dragon that will chase Prince Tamino at the start of the opera,” said the first version.
“It is a unique experience for me and something that is not often mentioned in the art industry,” Flores said in a statement. “When I hear the word ‘Opera’, I don’t think of computer graphics, but rather of tradition and history. My goal with this project is to inspire the younger generation to come to opera and discover new possibilities. “
The production features national and international soloists, according to the release, including soprano Yoo Ri Clark as Princess Pamina; tenor Michael Desnoyers as Prince Tamino; coloratura soprano Shawnette Sulker as Queen of the Night; basso profundo John Ames as Sarastro; and barite Donn Bradley as lead comedian, Papageno, back in his native Modesto.
Regional actors include Holly Banfield as Papagena; Sarah Benzinger, Anakira Gabriella-Graça and Linda Baird as the Three Ladies; Emmanuel Mercado and JT Williams as armored priests; Shawn Soelberg and Brad Reed as speaker priests; and Modesto High School Choir Director Adam Serpa as the evil Monostotos.
The roles of the mysterious spirits will be performed by young artists from Opera Modesto’s Summer Opera Institute 2021 program: Grace Benham, Isabella Diep, Zoey Freitas Scott, Philomena Iorns, Amanda Remy and Erica Sosa.
“The Magic Flute” will be conducted by Annalisa Winberg of Opera Modesto and conducted by Ryan Murray, with the choir conducted by Liisa Dávila.
It will be sung in German with English dialogues and English surtitles.
Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, October 15 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 17. There will be an “Opera Insights Pre-Show Conference” at 6:30 pm on October 15 and 1 pm on October 17. Tickets are $ 39 to $ 79, available at www.galloarts.org.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally bring this show on stage, after the long hiatus imposed by the pandemic,” Winberg said in a statement. “We can’t wait to share the opera live with our audience again! “