Review: GV’s ‘The Magic Flute’ leaves audience laughing

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Devin Clark and Katie Tamayo

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Devin Clark and Katie Tamayo

Audra Gamble

For most, going to an opera is not on the top of their to-do list. Even more so, it’s highly unlikely that a college student is going to want to spend their weekend going to see an opera written over 200 years ago. However, the Grand Valley State University theater and opera students managed to entertain a packed house on Nov. 8 with their rendition of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”

The GVSU students joined up with dancers from the Grand Rapids Ballet School Junior Company to create a colorful and lively rendition of the well-known opera.

The opera, in its simplest form, is a love story, focusing on two couples and their path to a happily-ever-after.

The performance occurred at the Grand Rapids Ballet Peter Martin Wege Theatre and featured a nine-piece live orchestra.

While the performance space was rather cramped, the members of the production utilized the area extraordinarily well, using the wings of the theater as well as performing from the back of the audience. The audience was left wondering where the actors would come from next, and the interaction with the audience added a great deal to the performance.

The star of the show was clearly the bird-like hooligan, Papageno, played by GVSU student Graham Smith. Smith’s performance of the trouble-maker stole the show, even outshining a GVSU vocal performance faculty member who joined the cast. Smith captured the audience with his spot-on physical comedy and over-the-top emotions, along with his vocal talent.

As a whole, the production was entertaining and well done. The cast did a commendable job of enunciating, allowing the audience to easily understand a fairly complex plot.

Additionally, there were a few absolutely beautiful arias performed by the lead females in the cast.

The intimate live orchestra was a great addition to the production, and the director’s interaction with the cast was well-placed and entertaining.

However, some of the members of the cast would have done well to project their voices louder over the volume of the instrumentalists. With such a small performance venue, there was no need for the audience to have to strain their ears to catch certain phrases of dialogue.

The GVSU cast benefitted greatly from the partnership with the Grand Rapids Ballet, as the dancers enhanced the performance to the next level. Additionally, the Grand Rapids Ballet provided some absolutely stunning headpieces and puppetry for the cast to use. These elements added a large amount of color and movement to the production.

While the production was well done, there were small elements that detracted from the overall effect of the opera and were slight reminders to the audience that this was a college-level production.

For example, while the costumes were excellent for the most part, some characters had modern pants and skirts on. These elements looked very out of place when juxtaposed with the fabulous costuming of the majority of the cast. In addition, the louder-than-normal scene changes were slightly distracting as well.

As a whole, however, the production was well thought out, and a solid choice for the resources available to the theater company. While there were a few elements that felt out of place, they only felt out of place because of the high quality of the production in its entirety. “The Magic Flute” was a grand feat for the GVSU students to attempt to pull off. They did so admirably and kept the audience laughing in the process.

[email protected]