UIW’s Singers Workshop Ensemble Performs Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”

April 19, 2024

On Thursday, April 11 and Friday, April 12, UIW’s Singers Workshop ensemble performed a production of “The Magic Flute,” an opera composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The libretto, or the text intended for an opera or musical, was written by Emanuel Schikaneder. With music sung in German, the performance follows the adventures of Prince Tamino and his comical companion, Papageno, on their search to rescue the Queen of the Night's daughter, Pamina. The Magic Flute is one of the most famous operas of all time with music that is recognizable even to those who are not otherwise familiar with the work.

The production’s ensemble was made up of 11 UIW students: Alex Montalvo, Lizeth Razo Robledo, Gabriel Hill, Cecilia “Genie” Siegl, Elizabeth Foley, Roberta Ramos, Jordan Oravits, Emerald Ybarra, Lisa Soto, Kenny Taylor and Daniel Rodriguez. In addition to the cast members, Nicole Cabello, production pianist, and Richard Trammell, music lecturer and production director, were instrumental in bringing the production to life.

Since mid-January, the cast has been diligently rehearsing challenging musical repertoire, creating set pieces, designing costumes and tending to other essential preparations. Normally a two-act opera that runs three hours, the ensemble team decided to do their adaptation of The Magic Flute in a condensed version that still encompassed all the intricate parts of the story and production.

“We rehearsed every Friday in our classes from 9 a.m. to noon, and also had rehearsals every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.,” Trammel shared. “That's not something that’s been typically done with this ensemble, but to do a production at a larger scale and with more moving parts, I proposed that we needed more time together. Every student met this with enthusiasm and even requested more time to meet. It was a very positive learning environment.”

Performers looking at each otherCast members had the difficult challenge of learning how to perform in the production's original German language. Although audience members were provided English translation and much of the production’s cast are music majors who are used to learning pieces in various languages, it was still a task required the best of their abilities.

“One of our leads Gabriel Hill, had a little bit of singing experience in his life, but he had never sung in a foreign language like German before. I would say that he had the most singing of any character in the entire show, and tackled the new language beautifully and did an excellent job,” praised Trammell.

Hill, who played the role of Papageno, said of tackling the part, “I let loose and had fun. I knew I had no barriers to my character, so I decided to take it to the next level and explore different aspects that I didn't think I was capable of doing.”

In honor of the vibrant Hispanic cultures present in the San Antonio area, Trammel decided to incorporate Spanish influence in this adaption. The 17th century Spanish influence was present in the production’s costuming, make-up, certain set pieces and other story-based aspects.

“There is an opening scene in the original production where Prince Tamino is being chased by a dragon and three attendants to the Queen of the Night jump in to slay the dragon. In our adaptation, I chose to have a Spanish conquistador style bull instead of a dragon. We had a bull come on stage and chase our Prince Tamino around and then the ladies came in at the last second to save the day,” explained Trammel.

Elizabeth Foley, production stage manager and cast member, took on a lot of responsibilities to make sure that their production was the best possible quality, including applying make-up to performers, creating multiple set pieces, designing cast member costumes, facilitating clear and smooth communication across all cast members and much more.

“My vision was to fulfill the size and feeling that Mozart had originally put into this even though it was a condensed opera. I wanted it to be something massive and beautiful, as well as at times intense and comedic. We wanted to do something that was much grander, especially in terms of costumes and set, and I’m thrilled to say that we did!” expressed Foley.

Performers dancingNow with the production successfully performed, Trammell, Foley and the rest of the cast are extremely proud of the quality of their production.

“We are a small school, but I do not think that size is a determining factor for quality nor success rate,” stated Trammell. “It was very important to me to give this ensemble the opportunity to push themselves to grow, but also to show them what they are capable of. Each of them came to the other side of this production stronger musicians, actors, performers and in many ways humans as well.”

In addition to the cast members, Foley hopes that the audiences who came in support of them also experienced a sense of enjoyment. “I really hope that the audience saw the joy and beauty that we wanted to bring to them and felt the heartfelt moments as well. I hope that the audience saw our performance shine.”