I'm no authority on opera, or even classical music, so keep that in mind as I attempt to describe why seeing The Magic Flute on Saturday night was thoroughly enjoyable.
Throughout the two acts, the predominating mood was nothing short of merry, something I had not expected but found adorable. The tone was set by stage director Carl Gerbrandt, who employed a quaint inflatable dragon, kids in leotards and cat-ear headbands (as wild animals) and, as noted in our preview, a trio of spirits on roller skates. (Though that effect did come off as a bit distracting.)
While the characters and leitmotifs were charming, the music was serious business; how can something from 1791 remain so startlingly beautiful? Even the untrained ear recognizes the reasons for the local hullabaloo over Mozart, which took off with his 250th birthday in 2006. During her Queen of the Night's aria, Soprano Brittany Ann Robinson lifted her high notes with incredible power and pitch. This was Robinson's debut on the main stage for Opera Theatre of the Rockies, but she executed those famous "scales" with all the poise and power of an experienced diva.
Unfortunately, Saturday's crowd was rather sparse, and a few friends were miffed by the opera's numerous plot holes. Yes, the story did wrap up with comical speed, but please — The Magic Flute isn't meant to be a finely tuned tragedy like Othello, nor is Mozart remembered as a closet Hemingway.
I liked the story myself, archaic ideals of male and female roles aside. The basic run of the hero with his ridiculous sidekick — in this case, Papageno, a man-parrot — isn't hard to enjoy.