Kate Willetts, 2nd year BA Music
As the final week in March approaches, Cardiff University Operatic Society are gearing themselves up to face their biggest challenge to date. After months of planning and hard work, they are taking on Mozart’s classic fairytale The Magic Flute, and they mean business.
Over the past three years they have grown in strength and numbers, tackling operas such as Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado in their first year, Pride and Prejudice (a brand new work based on Jane Austen’s classic novel) in March 2013, and performing countless opera favourites in gala concerts, their last outing in Cardiff being a very successful Opera Through The Ages concert at the end of November 2013.
In this short space of time, they’ve not only shown themselves to be diverse in their approach to operatic styles, but also ready for a challenge and, most importantly, dedicated to promoting the operatic genre in all of its eclectic glory.
The Magic Flute is an opera in two acts, which follows the story of Papageno the bird-catcher and Prince Tamino on their quests to find true love and enlightenment. Its charming characters, memorable score, and wonderful moments of comedy have cemented it as one of Mozart’s best-loved works; a joy for performers and audience members alike!
Despite its light-hearted facade, this opera contains some particularly demanding music, with vocally challenging parts across all roles (from the soaring Queen of the Night arias to the impressive choruses); that a cast of young singers should attempt this work is a huge risk (especially for a student-run society in its early stages), but CUOS were up for the challenge and, what is very apparent, is that they have the singers and the production team to pull it off in style.
One of the most prominent features of the Operatic Society’s production of The Magic Flute is its concept; drawing on the continued popularity of The Wizard Of Oz story, the company has explored the similarities between the land of Oz and the unspecified land that the characters of the opera inhabit, in order to create an extraordinary dream-world that aims to highlight the pull between the reality and the fantastic. Here, the high priest Sarastro represents the all-powerful, grandiose nature of the Wizard, whilst the Queen of the Night occupies the more mystical and magical side of Oz. Throughout the production, the traditional fairytale elements are juxtaposed with a more abstract interpretation of the opera (with some wonderful moments of stylised movement and a more modern approach to costume design) which results in a refreshing amalgamation of styles and ideas.
With both the familiar and the uncanny in equal measure, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this interpretation.
The CUOS team – from the cast, crew, and orchestra, to every single person working behind the scenes – have a truly fantastic show on their hands. Who knows what the future may bring for this fledgling society, or what new projects they have in store; for now, they are looking forward to revelling in the excitement of a brilliant show, with both the prospect of spreading their appreciation of opera to a new audience, and being able to look back on this time and pinpoint the moment when this society really learned how to fly.
Cardiff University Operatic Society’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute is running from 28th-29th March at The Gate Arts Centre, Keppoch Street, Roath.
Tickets are available from firstname.lastname@example.org, cardiffstudents.com/cuos or by calling on 07752 341 834