Get ready for a fairytale-like opera in two acts featuring a handsome prince, and a magic flute that turns sorrow into joy.
Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra and the Chilliwack Opera Troupe present The Magic Flute by W.A. Mozart, opening Sept. 25 at the Cultural Centre.
Rehearsals have been ongoing for weeks. It’s shaping up to be a truly international run, with a talented cast of young Canadian singers as well as two Austrian singers.
The Magic Flute will be conducted by Paula De Wit, Musical Director of the CSO and COT, and directed by Andrea Mellis, a Chilliwack secondary graduate.
Mellis has been performing as a professional singer for 40 years, and has been in the director’s chair for plays, operas and musicals across Europe and Asia. Coming back to the city where she went to high school to mount an operatic production like this is a pure act of love.
“I have been associated with this opera for a long time. It’s a piece I’ve thought about for years and years,” she said. “It’s time to give back.”
The Magic Flute features spoken dialogue as well as musical numbers, and the piece was adapted by Ron Hannah for a smaller orchestra.
There are 10 Magic Flute soloists, a chorus of 12, and an orchestra of 14 ready to dazzle the crowds.
The special appearance of traditional masks worn by young performers in the show were designed and created by local aboriginal artists, in collaboration with Sto:lo Nation.
“It was important to make a production that has a relevance to the people living in Chilliwack,” she told The Progress.
They went looking for relevant imagery and found connections with Sto:lo stories about two-headed serpents as protectors, as well as the importance of twins.
It dovetailed with the 18th century themes that juxtaposed enlightenment through nature, versus the darkness of ignorance and superstition.
Being a former resident, Mellis also knew Chilliwack has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to vocal talent, and artists in general.
“It’s nurtured in every format, but not opera for some reason. For that singers have to go to Vancouver and beyond.”
Mellis connected creatively with CSO’s De Wit a couple of years ago to talk about the potential of a show.
So passionate was Mellis about the idea of mounting this opera here that she invested $20,000 of her own money to get the wheels turning.
And here they are.
CSO director Paula De Wit said to tell the people of Chilliwack they simply “don’t want to miss” this opera.
“It’s such an honour to bring such wonderful classic like the Magic Flute to our community,” she said. “It’s exciting to be a part of an emerging artist program that allows local, national and international singers an opportunity to show case their amazing gifts.
“It’s been thrilling to be able to collaborate with someone as gifted as Andrea Mellis. My life has been enriched because of this music experience.”
The production of Magic Flute has allowed them to also launch an Emerging Artists’ Program with funding for a few Canadian opera singers, particularly those from the Fraser Valley.
Potential sponsors were offered the chance to fund a specific aspect of the production.
“The Chilliwack Opera Troupe is one of the very few organizations in Canada who are willing to give Canadian emerging artists paid work, and I think this is something that Chilliwack can be very proud of,” Mellis explained.
Rehearsals started in earnest in early August.
“The last rehearsals will be spent polishing. There are some magnificent voices in the ensemble, so I welcome people to come and have a really good time. It’s sublime music,” said Mellis.
Magic Flute by Chilliwack Opera Troupe with CSO at the Cultural Centre, tickets $25/15, Sept. 25, 27, 28. Showtimes 7 p.m. except the Sunday, Sept. 28 show, which is at 3 p.m.