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Mozart's Magic Flute: An interactive opera and a spiritual journey for all Ages.

Muscat: This week, The Royal Opera House Muscat will host the first interactive opera of its kind in the region for children and family! We have chosen Mozart's sublime Singspiel, lit. sung play, written in 1791, Mozart's final year due to its suitability for all ages. The work is a spiritual journey towards Enlightenment, truth, purification and quest for knowledge, but for children, it is also a fairy-tale about magic, triumph of good over evil, tolerance over hatred, and clemency over vengeance. The opera is an allegory set in no real locality or historical period, but Ancient Egypt is evoked through the character of the wise Sarastro, mysticism, and his three temples. Mozart's The Magic Flute is a story of gripping power, fantasy, fairy-tale and magic. Surely, magic is no stranger to opera; the first operas ever written in Italy by Jacopo Periand Claudio Monteverdi, for example, were all based on the magical power of Orpheus' musical instrument,the lyre. In The Magic Flute, Tamino's flute is able to tame the wild animals by the sound of his playing. A symbolic opera As a fairy-tale, the opera centres on binary polar opposites; good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, real vs. fantasy, spiritual vs. temporal. The characters are a bizarre mixture of various backgrounds; Papageno is a "bird catcher," who lives by eating and drinking. He catches birds for the starry Queen of the Night and thus counters the noble origin of Tamino, a Javanese prince. Likewise, the wise Sarastro is priest of the Sun and stands in opposition to the evil Queen of the Night. But if the Queen is the source of evil, her daughter Pamina is her antithesis; the strongest force for good and a complement to Tamino. Falling short of Enlightenment, the earthy Papageno and his mate Papagena are happy with their sensual pleasures of food and drink and, unlike Tamino and Pamina, they do not aspire to higher values of wisdom, truth and spirituality. As usual, Mozart gives prime importance to his female characters. They are often the power that directs the action and even in the spiritual vain, our spiritual path involves the rediscovery and guidance of feminine wisdom. To this end, Tamino and Papageno are incomplete without Pamina and Papagena. Only with them side by side, are they able to be led back to their true spiritual destination. Together, they represent God's manifestation of a complete image. In the duet between Papageno and Pamina ("BeiMEnnnern, welcheLiebe") we hear "Husband and wife, and wife and husband, reach toward the divine." The duet epitomises the opera's moral story of Love, which is the result of growth, trial and overcoming. It's a sign of mutual relationship and the merging of two lives into one. The music of Mozart is designed to appeal to all ages, but its complex layers of symbolism and numerology can equally be enjoyed by amateurs and connoisseurs. Symbolism and numerology play important role in The Magic Flute; the opera has 3 ladies, 3 spirits, 3 trials; and 3 temples (nature, reason, and wisdom). Likewise, its music is centred on keys with 3 flats (C minor and E-flat major) and the overture commences with 3 majestic opening chords. Educational project This production by the TeatroSociale di Como in Italy is especially designed for family and children. The opera is in abbreviated form that caters to children's attention span, and it is made relevant in the form of a child's dream obsessed with his video game. The protagonist is a boy, who also must confront his own monsters and demons. In this production, our students and children will sing and accompany Tamino in his journey towards light. The opera is interactive in many ways; as a part of our education and outreach mission at the Royal Opera House Muscat, we have collaborated with several schools, public and private, and worked over the last five months with hundreds of students and their teachers to familiarise them with the plot and the music of the opera. During their performances, they will interact with the characters, sing, and actively participate in carrying the action. We are thrilled to host more than 2,400 students in 3 of our morning performances that do not appear in our published programme along with college students and various non-profit organisations. Their participation in the show goes beyond the passive attendance to the more engaging part of performing. During the year, we worked with the students to prepare a special "kit" made of a torch, a painting, and a pair of gloves that they will use at special moments when the plot call for each of the items. In the evening performances, selected students from schools will also be involved. In a rare addition, 2 talented Omani actors will also present the spoken dialogue of all characters in the opera in Arabic. Music for peace It is my core belief that music carries the noble mission of peace, tolerance, clemency and coexistence. It is the most powerful creative cultural force that transcends borders, racial differences and brings us together. Tonight, an Italian company will perform a Viennese opera in Oman in Arabic, Italian, and English, a true testament to our mission of bringing people together through music and the arts. These shared universal values find their ultimate manifestations in Mozart's divine score when the forces of Light shatter those of Darkness and Good triumphs over Evil. Mozart's The Magic Flute is about growth, overcoming and the quest of the human soul, inner and outer, for Knowledge, truth and Love. Only in the world of Mozart can magic, fairy-tale and Enlightenment ideals be realised in their simplest, purest and most profound nature. Dr. Nasser Al Taee, the author, is Advisor to the Board for Education and Outreach.

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Apr 5, 2015
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